For the first time, a pig kidney has been transplanted into a human. The transplanted organ comes from an animal genetically modified to avoid rejection.
It is a world first. Surgeons at Langone University in New York (United States) transplanted a pig kidney into a human patient, without triggering immediate rejection by the recipient’s immune system. This surgical breakthrough opens up a new avenue for the treatment of patients with chronic renal failure who are awaiting a transplant.
A genetically modified pig
The kidney that was transplanted by Dr. Robert Montgomery’s team comes from an animal that has been genetically modified to reduce the risk of rejection. American doctors have, in fact, hypothesized that eliminating the pig’s gene that triggers rejection – a sugar molecule called alpha-gal – would prevent this problem.
The kidney was transplanted to a patient who originally suffered from kidney failure but was brain dead. His family had consented to the experiment before disconnecting the breathing assistance. The organ was kept outside the body for 3 days so that doctors could study how it worked. They were pleased to discover that after the transplant, the amount of urine produced by the body had returned to normal as well as the level of creatinine (an indicator of poor kidney function).
This experience could thus pave the way for trials in patients with end-stage renal disease within 2 years.
Eugène Vomba from Beni.