Pig Kidney Successfully Transferred Into Human Patient For First Time

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Kevin Harness Contributor
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Doctors from a New York City hospital performed the first successful pig-to-human kidney transplant, according to Reuters.

Researchers have been trying to find ways to successfully perform animal-to-human organ transplants but have been having difficulties with preventing immediate rejection. That changed when doctors of NYU Langone Health attached a pig’s kidney to a human patient whose immune system did not immediately reject the organ, Reuters reported Wednesday. (RELATED: Scientists Have Created Embryos Made Of Both Human And Monkey Cells In Search For Transplant Organs)

The kidney came from a pig that was part of a group of genetically altered pigs called GalSafe, which was developed by United Therapeutics’ Revivicor subsidiary, according to Reuters.

The pigs were engineered so that they would no longer possess a molecule that would trigger the human immune system to attack the organ, NBC News reported.

The recipient of the kidney was a brain-dead patient who had signs of kidney dysfunction and was due to be taken off life support. The family of the patient consented to the procedure, feeling that “some good could come out of it,” Reuters reported.

After the procedure, the kidney was maintained outside of the patient, so that it could be observed by researchers. Test results showed that the kidney was functioning like a human kidney would, producing “the amount of urine you would expect,” according to Dr. Robert Montgomery, who led the study, NBC News reported.

In the U.S., there are as many as 107,000 recipients on the waiting list for organ transplants, including more than 90,000 in need of a kidney, according to the United Network of Organ Sharing.

The average wait time for a kidney is three to five years.

The NYU experiment should pave the way for new trials in patients with kidney-related problems, possibly within the next year or two, according to Reuters.