Big breakthrough! US surgeons successfully attach pig kidney to a human
The genetically modified pig whose organ was harvested for the procedure did not have the molecule in its tissues that are known to trigger an immediate rejection.
In a major breakthrough, surgeons have successfully transplanted a genetically modified pig's kidney into a human without an immune system attack on the recipient. The first-of-its-kind procedure, carried out at NYU Langone Health in New York City in September, could potentially resolve the issue of shortage of human organs for transplant in the future.
According to reports, the genetically modified pig whose organ was harvested for the procedure did not have the molecule in its tissues that are known to trigger an immediate rejection. According to Dr Robert Montgomery, who led the team that carried out the procedure, the recipient of the kidney was a brain-dead patient who had been diagnosed with kidney malfunction. The patient was about to be taken off life support when doctors approached the family for permission to conduct the procedure.
Following the procedure, the team monitored the vitals of the patient. Dr Robert Montgomery said that the harvested kidney functioned normally, immediately producing urine and the waste product creatinine. However, he clarified that the organ was not implanted in the body, but rather attached to the patient's blood vessels and maintained outside the body.
Dr Montgomery said that the fact that the organ started functioning almost immediately outside the body points in the direction that it would do the same inside a patient's body. Even though experts have hailed the procedure as a massive step towards organ transplantation, they say that a detailed study needs to be conducted now.
Studies have been on for decades to explore the possibility of harvesting animal organs for transplantation for human patients. A breakthrough was achieved in 2018 when scientists created hybrid embryos with sheep and human cells using gene-editing technology.
Two years later in 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the first-ever genetically altered pig called GalSafe for use in food products or human therapeutics. The genetic modification eliminates the gene that makes a sugar molecule that is the source of allergy in some people when they consume certain meats.