24 Oct 2021
U.S. Surgeons Successfully Done a first Ever Pig Kidney Transplant in a Human
The Index Today
U.S. surgeons have successfully given a pig's kidney to a person in a transplant breakthrough that they hope could ultimately solve the shortages in terms of donor organ.
The recipient was declared brain-dead, meaning the patient were already on artificial life support with no hope of recovering.
The kidney came from a genetically modified pig to stop the organ being recognized by the body as "foreign" and being rejected by the human.
BBC mentioned in their report that some experts said that it is the most advanced experiment in the field so far.
Similar tests have been done in non-human primates, but not people, until now.
Using pigs for transplants is not a new idea though. Pig heart valves are already widely used in humans, BBC report added.
And their organs are a good match for people when it comes to size.
The operation lasted for about two-hour, the surgeons connected the donor pig kidney to the blood vessels of the brain-dead recipient to see if it would function normally once connected in, or be rejected by the patient’s body.
Over the next two-and-a-half days they are closely monitoring the kidney, running numerous checks and tests.
Dr Robert Montgomery the lead investigator told the BBC's World Tonight programme: "We observed a kidney that basically functioned like a human kidney transplant, which appeared to be compatible in as much as it did all the things that a normal human kidney would do.
"It functioned normally, and did not appear to be undergoing rejection."
"The traditional paradigm that someone has to die for someone else to live is never going to keep up.
"I certainly understand the concern and what I would say is that currently about 40% of patients who are waiting for a transplant die before they receive one.
"We use pigs as a source of food, we use pigs for medicinal uses - for valves, for medication. I think it's not that different."
He said it was still early research and more studies were needed, but added: "It gives us, I think, new confidence that it's going to be all right to move this into the clinic."
The family of the recipient gave permission for the surgery to go ahead.
The U.S. regulator the FDA has actually approved the use of the genetically modified pig organs for this type of research use.
Dr. Montgomery believes that in the future or within a decade, other pig organs - hearts, lung and livers - could be given to humans needing transplants.