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Pig kidney transplanted in human, doctors say functioning ‘pretty normal’



In what can be termed as a revolution in the medical field, doctors in the United States have transplanted a pig kidney into a human without triggering immediate rejection by the recipient’s immune system. If this proves to be successful then it could eventually help in doing away with a dire shortage of human kidneys for transplant.

The kidney transplant procedure was done at NYU Langone Health in New York City. The procedure involved the use of a pig whose genes had been altered so that its tissues no longer contained a molecule known to trigger almost immediate rejection.

The recipient of this transplant is a brain-dead patient with signs of kidney dysfunction. As per a media report, the family of the recipient consented to the experiment before she was due to be taken off the life support, researchers said.

The new kidney was attached to the recipient’s blood vessels for three days and maintained outside her body, giving researchers access to it. Transplant surgeon Dr Robert Montgomery, who led the research study said that the transplanted kidney’s function looked ‘pretty normal’.

The kidney made the amount of urine that you would expect from a transplanted human kidney, Dr Montgomery said. The recipient’s abnormal creatinine level returned to normal after the transplant, doctors claimed. Abnormal creatinine level is an indicator of poor kidney function.

For decades, researchers have been experimenting with the possibility of using animal organs for transplants because human organs are scarce and patients usually have to wait for years to find a donor. However, they have not been successful over how to prevent immediate rejection by the human body.

The United States alone has nearly 107,000 people waiting for various organ transplants. This includes more than 90,000 awaiting a kidney transplant, the United Network for Organ Sharing data reveals. In the US, the waiting period for getting a donor kidney average three to five years.

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