The First Pig to Human Kidney Transplant Worked Successfully


A surgical operation carried out in an intensive care unit

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Disease Prevention, Control, and Cure | Organ Transplant

Health Education

New York surgeons have successfully linked a kidney growing in a genetically modified pig with a human patient and found that the organ was functioning normally, a scientific discovery that could one day result in an enormous supply of new organs for terminally ill patients.

The first surgery that required the transplant of a pig kidney to a human was said to have worked, leading to scientists reporting that a kidney grown in a genetically altered pig functions normally. The successful transplant may door to a renewable source of desperately needed organs from the animal.

Dr. Robert Montgomery is director of the N.Y.U. Langone Transplant Institute in Manhattan said to The New York Times: ‘’Genetically-engineered pigs “could potentially be a sustainable, renewable source of organs’’

Dr. Dorry Segev, a professor of transplant surgery at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine who was not involved in the research said, “It’s a big, big deal. This is a huge breakthrough,”

Scientific researchers have long sought to grow organs in pigs suitable for human transplantation and organs from pigs include hearts, lungs, and livers — would offer a lifeline

Researchers have long sought to grow organs in pigs suitable for human transplantation. Technologies such as cloning and genetic engineering have brought this vision closer to reality in recent years, but testing these experimental organs in humans has raised daunting ethical questions.

Even more Americans with kidney failure — more than half a million — rely on grueling dialysis treatments to survive. Largely due to a shortage of human organs, most dialysis patients are ineligible for transplants, which is reserved for those most likely to thrive after the procedure.

A steady supply of organs from pigs — which could eventually include hearts, lungs, and livers — would offer a lifeline to the more than 100,000 Americans currently on transplant waiting lists, including the 90,240 who need a kidney. Twelve people on the waiting lists die each day.

How the pig to human kidney transplant worked successfully

So the surgeon from N.Y.U. Langone Health Transplant Institute in Manhattan took a surprising step:  With family approval, they attached pig kidneys to brain-dead patients left alive on ventilators, then followed the body’s response as they took kidney function measurements. . This is the first such operation.

The transplanted kidneys were obtained from genetically modified pigs to grow an organ that the human body is impossible to resist. In an approach that approximates the actual transplant procedure, the kidney is attached to a vein in the patient’s upper leg, outside the abdomen.

How the human body will work after the transplant

According to Dr. Robert Montgomery,  director of  N.Y.U. The Langone Transplant Institute, which carried out the procedure in September said that the organs begin to function normally, producing urine and creatinine from waste products “almost immediately.

Although a kidney has not yet been implanted into the body, problems with so-called xenografts – from animals such as primates and pigs – usually occur at the interface between the blood supply and the organ, where human blood flows through the vessels. said.

The fact that an organ has functioned outside the body is a strong indication that it will function inside the body, says Dr. Montgomery.

The researchers monitored the results for only 54 hours, and many questions remain to be answered about the long-term consequences of this surgery. This procedure will not be available to patients in the near future, as there are significant medical and regulatory hurdles to overcome.

 However, industry experts hailed the intervention as a milestone.

The surgery was first reported by USA Today on Tuesday. The research has not yet been peer-reviewed nor published in a medical journal.

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