Transplant revolution: Surgeons connect pig kidney to human

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Surgeons in New York successfully connected to a human – for the first time in the world – a kidney that had developed in the body of a genetically modified pig. The instrument worked normally, which probably paves the way for a new source of organs for transplantation from animals.

Although they remain to be answered several questions about the long-term effects of such an implant, experts believe that the achievement is landmark in the field of xenograft (transplantation between different species of living beings). The operation was performed at New York University (NYU) Langone Medical Center, according to the New York Times, and the medical team that performed it, led by Dr. Robert Montgomery, director of the NYU Langone Transplant Institute, has not yet performed relevant publication in a medical journal.

How the organ was transplanted

The kidney came from a pig that had been genetically modified so that the organ would not be rejected by the human body, according to the APE-MPE. The organ was not transplanted normally, but was attached through blood vessels outside the abdomen, at the top of one foot mechanically supported dead human brain and who was a previously declared organ donor. The kidney began to produce urine and creatinine almost immediately.

Montgomery said that since the organ functioned normally attached to the outside of the body, it would probably work just as well if transplanted normally. «Things went better than expected. It looked like any implant I have used from a living donor. Many kidneys from the dead do not work immediately and are needed days or weeks to get started. That worked immediately, “he said.

“We need to know more about the longevity of the organ,” said Dori Segev, a professor of transplant surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. But it is a huge step forward. “It is a very, very big achievement,” he said.

Bioethics issues and concerns about swine viruses

Scientists have long been trying to develop organs in pigs suitable for transplantation into humans, as there are long waiting lists for various organs (kidneys, heart, lungs, liver). Largely due to the lack of kidneys for transplantation, the vast majority of dialysis patients are unable to acquire new organs.

The prospect of pig organs is expected to rise bioethics issues, in particular as to whether animals are being exploited by humans. So while some doctors hope it will be a matter of a few months before people start transplanting kidneys from pigs, others think it takes longer. Among other things, there are concerns about swine viruses as well that could infect humans.

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