A US medical team has succeeded in temporarily attaching a pig’s kidney to a person.
A surgeon who led the procedure termed the transplant a breakthrough, further hailing it as a ‘potential miracle’.
The surgery, carried out on September 25, involved a genetically modified donor animal and a brain dead patient on a ventilator whose family had given permission for the two-day experiment.
“It did what it’s supposed to do, which is remove waste and make urine,” Robert Montgomery, director of the transplant institute at New York University (NYU) Langone said.
Following the procedure, the organ was able to reduce the level of the molecule creatinine, a key indicator of kidney health that was elevated in the patient prior to the transplant.
Montgomery carried out the surgery with several colleagues and it took them around two hours.
The medical team joined the kidney to blood vessels on the top of one of the patient’s legs, so that they could observe it and take biopsy samples.
The patient had wanted to be an organ donor and their family was initially disappointed when told their loved one’s organs were not suitable.
After the 54-hour experiment, the patient was taken off the ventilator and passed away.
Earlier research has shown that kidneys from pigs are viable in nonhuman primates for up to a year, but this was the first time it had been attempted with a human patient.
The donor pig belonged to a herd that had undergone a procedure to knock out a gene that produces a particular sugar, which would otherwise have triggered a strong immune response and led to organ rejection.
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