Scientists Successfully Transplant a Pig's Kidney to a Human

Pigs eating from troughPigs eating from trough
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The NYU Langone Transplant Institute in New York has transplanted a kidney from a genetically altered pig to a human for the first time.

Scientists have successfully transplanted a pig kidney to a human, according to The New York Times.

According to Dr. Robert Montgomery, director of the NYU Langone Transplant Institute in Manhattan and lead researcher on the study, genetically engineered pigs could potentially be a sustainable, renewable source of organs.

Experts not involved in the study, such as Dr. Dorry Segev, professor of transplant surgery at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, agree that while there are many questions to be answered, this success deserves to be celebrated. 

“This is a huge breakthrough. It’s a big, big deal.” he said.

According to the outlet, researchers have attempted to successfully utilize pigs for organ transplants for a long time, considering the more than 100,000 Americans on donor transplant waiting lists — 12 people on these lists die each day.

Around 90,240 of those are in need of a kidney, making the success of the kidney from the genetically altered pig all the more important.

In order to lessen the chance of human rejection, the kidney used had one of the pig genes removed — one that encodes a sugar molecule — because of the likelihood of a dangerous human response.

The pig was genetically engineered by Revivicor and approved by the FDA for use in the research.

The team also transplanted the pig’s thymus — a gland that plays a role in the immune system — as another attempt to prevent rejection. 

The donor kidney was transplanted into a patient who was brain dead, and was then monitored for 54 hours. 

Because of these conditions, longterm research is needed, but experts believe things are moving in the right direction.

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