US surgeons say they have successfully administered a pig kidney to a person in a transplant that they hope will eventually resolve the shortage of donor organs.
The recipient was brain dead, meaning they were already in artificial life support with no prospect of recovery.
The kidney came from a pig that had been genetically engineered to prevent the organ from being recognized by the body as “foreign” and rejected.
The work has not yet been peer-reviewed or published, but there are plans for that.
Experts say it is the most advanced experiment in the field so far.
Similar tests have been conducted on non-human primates, but not on people, until now.
However, the use of pigs for transplants is not a new idea. Pork heart valves are already widely used in humans.
And their organs are a good match for people when it comes to size.
During the two hours of operation the New York University Langone Health Medical Center, Surgeons connected the donor’s pig kidney to the brain-dead recipient’s blood vessels to see if it would function normally once inserted or if it was rejected.
Over the next two and a half days they monitored the kidney closely, performing numerous checks and tests.
Lead researcher Dr Robert Montgomery told the BBC’s World Tonight program: ‘We observed a kidney that basically worked like a human kidney transplant, which appeared to be compatible in that it did all the things a normal human kidney would do.
“It was functioning normally and did not seem to suffer rejection.”
A heart transplant recipient himself, Dr. Montgomery says there is an urgent need to find more organs for people on the waiting list, although he acknowledges his work is controversial.
“I certainly understand the concern and what I would say is that currently around 40% of patients waiting for a transplant die before receiving it.
“We use pigs as a food source, we use pigs for medicinal uses – for valves, for drugs. I think it’s not that different.”
He said it was still early research and more studies were needed, but added, “It gives us, I think, new confidence that it will be okay to transfer this to the clinic.”
Dr Maryam Khosravi, a kidney and intensive care doctor working for the NHS in the UK, said: ‘Animal-to-human transplantation is something we have been studying for decades now and it’s really interesting to see this group take this step forward. “
On ethics, he said, “Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. I think the community at large needs to answer these questions.”
A spokesperson for NHS Blood and Transplant, said matching multiple human donors remains the priority for now: “There is still a long way to go before such transplants become a daily reality.
“As researchers and doctors continue to do our best to improve the chances for transplant patients, we still need everyone to make their own decision about organ donation and let their family know what they want to happen if organ donation becomes a possibility”.
- Kidney failure
- Organ donation
- United States
Offer to grow transplanted organs in pigs
- June 6, 2016
Genetically modified pigs become organ donors
- 11 August 2017
Related Internet Links
Read More about World News here.
This Article is Sourced from BBC News. You can check the original article here: Source