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US Surgeons Successfully Attached Pig Kidney Transplant In A Human

(Image source: Unsplash/Amber Kipp)

Surgeons in New York have successfully attached a genetic pig kidney to a human patient and found that the organ worked normally, a scientific breakthrough that may yield a vast new supply of organs for severely ill patients one day. According to The New York Times, The the experiment was conducted on brain-dead patients who were registered organ donors and whose families permitted the procedure to be done.

During 54 hours of surgery at N.Y.U Langone Health Medical Centre, surgeons connected a donor pig’s kidney to a brain-dead recipient’s vein to see if the kidney would function normally once plumbed in or be rejected. Many questions remain to be answered about the long-term consequences of such an operation. However, experts in the field hailed the operation as a milestone.

Compared to primate organs, pig organs offer several advantages for transplantation. But there’s one major hurdle: Pig tissue carries a gene that codes for a sugar molecule called alpha-gal, which can send the human immune system into a frenzy and lead to organ rejection. So in the transplant experiment, according to Live Science, the team used kidneys from genetically engineered pigs that lack this sugar-producing gene. To prepare the organs for transplantation, the team engineered the kidneys in one additional way: they transplanted pig thymus, a small gland that helps train immune cells to fight infection, into the kidneys. Robert Montgomery, who leads the surgical team at NYU Langone Health, explained at a press conference held on October 21.

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