In a redefining occasion in the medical transplantation world, a genetically engineered pig’s kidneys were transplanted into a brain dead man of above 50 at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, United States. The transplanted kidney began working within 23 minutes of getting transplanted and remained functional for 74 hours. The news became the buzz, and the procedure got published in the American Journal of Transplantation. It is the first of its kind incident where a pig-to-human transplant procedure has been published in a peer-reviewed journal. The experiment was conducted addressing the critical safety measures and feasibility of xenotransplantation or transplanting of the organs of one species into another.
The pig was genetically edited precisely so that its organs were more compatible with human bodies and less likely to be rejected. During the whole experiment, the researchers didn’t find any infection caused by viruses from the pig.
However, the kidneys produced urine were unable to filter creatinine from the blood, which a healthy human kidney does. The researchers suspect this was likely because of the brain injury that the patient, James Parsons, had suffered. James Parsons had been declared dead five days earlier, and the experiment was terminated when other organs started to fail, the kidneys were not rejected at any point, though.
Future of organ transplants
This is a significant development considering the long waiting period of finding a suitable organ donor. According to official data, nearly 100,000 Americans are awaiting an organ donor, and 90,000 of them need a kidney. Data also says seventeen Americans die each day while waiting for an organ.
The researchers said that this trial has overcome many barriers to xenotransplantation trials in humans. They also confirmed Xenotransplantation research has been advancing rapidly. Such Xenotransplantation research could be a potential solution for people waiting for organ donors around the globe.
In another such incident earlier this year, a genetically modified pig’s heart was successfully transplanted into a human for the first time at the University of Maryland, United States. Last year, a pig’s kidney was temporarily externally attached to a patient in New York and remained functioning for 54 hours. Indeed, such news brings hope to the patients around.