For The First Time Pig Kidney Successfully Transplanted Into Human Patient

The story marks the first pig kidney to be transplanted into a human without rejection, reports the Associated Press. As observations continue, this could mark a significant leap in medical science that could potentially alleviate the need for organ transplants.

Dr. Robert Montgomery, the leader of the surgical team for the cross-species organ transplant at NYU Langone Health, commented, “It had absolutely normal function. It didn’t have this immediate rejection that we have worried about.”

The kidney was temporarily hooked to a brain-dead patient through its two major blood vessels from the outside. Reuters confirmed that the patient’s family had consented to the experiment.

For two days, observation concluded with zero rejection from the body’s immune system while the pig kidney functioned normally. Montgomery confirmed that the abnormal creatinine level from the patient with kidney dysfunction symptoms returned to normal post-transplant.

The kidneys were taken from genetically altered pigs, called GalSafe pigs. They were developed by United Therapeutics Corp’s (UTHR.O) Revivicor unit to provide a diet for people with red meat allergies. They remove a sugar molecule, or glycan, called alpha-gal, which is also the cause of triggering the immune system in humans when transplanted.

Montgomery shared that organ shortage made him accept a heart donor from a patient with hepatitis C and currently, over 90,000 people are on the waitlist for kidneys alone. Twelve of them die every day while waiting. Future trials are necessary as the current trial only lasted for three days.

Participants will most probably be those with a poor prognosis. The doctor explained, “For a lot of those people, the mortality rate is as high as it is for some cancers, and we don’t think twice about using new drugs and doing new trials (in cancer patients) when it might give them a couple of months more of life.”

The outlook for the success of the transplantation sees it as a temporary method for patients with end-stage kidney failure while waiting for a human donor or maybe even as a permanent graft.


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