First ever case: Human patient transplanted pig kidney by US doctors
New York, Oct 20 Doctors at NYU Langone Health in New York temporarily transplanted a pig's kidney onto a human in first ever case. It is a 'significant step' toward animal-to-human organ transplants, the media reported.
The family of the recipient, who had wanted to be an organ donor, gave permission for the surgery to go ahead.Incidentally the US FDA has also approved the use of the genetically modified pig organs for this type of research use.
Animal-to-human transplant, known as xenotransplantations, dates back to the 17th century, when attempts were made to use animal blood for transfusion.
The kidney came from a pig that had been genetically modified so that its tissues no longer contained a molecule known to trigger immediate rejection.Experts claim that it is the most advanced experiment in the field so far.
The recipient of the transplant was a brain-dead patient, whose kidneys were dysfunctional, the Independent reported. The team of doctors kept the woman's body going on a ventilator after her family agreed to the experiment. To avoid immediate rejection from the human immune system due to the presence of a sugar molecule in pig cells called Glycan, the doctors altered the pig's genes.
The surgeons connected the donor pig kidney to the blood vessels of the brain-dead recipient to see if it would function normally once plumbed in, or be rejected, in a two hour long operation.
They discovered the kidney had not been rejected by the patient's autoimmune response. Moreover, the patient's abnormal creatinine level -- indicating poor kidney function -- returned to normal, the report said. The kidneys filtered waste and produced urine as was expected, Robert Montgomery, a transplant surgeon and lead scientist of the study was quoted as saying.
Such a surgery can give hope to patients with end-stage kidney failure and become a short term solution till a kidney becomes available, he said.
The pig used in the research had been provided by Revivicor, a subsidiary of United Therapeutics, a company that engineered a herd of 100 others at a facility in Iowa, the report said.
It is hoped that this transplant breakthrough could ultimately solve donor organ shortages globally.