For the first time ever, a kidney from a pig has been transplanted into a human without any rejection from the patient’s immune system. This could be a major step that can help alleviate urgent shortages of human organs for transplant. The procedure was performed at NYU Langone Health in New York City.
The team of surgeons used a pig whose genes had been altered so that its tissues did not contain a molecule that is known to trigger immediate rejection in humans. The recipient of the procedure was a brain-dead patient with signs of kidney dysfunction. According to Reuters, the family consented to the experiment before she was due to be taken off life support.
In order for the researchers to have access to the kidney, it was attached to her blood vessels but remained outside her body for three days. Dr. Robert Montgomery, a transplant surgeon that led the study said the kidney’s function “looked pretty normal”. In the United States, there are close to 107,000 people currently waiting for organ transplants, with more than 90,000 of them awaiting a kidney.
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