Surgeons attached a pig kidney to a human - and it worked

US surgeons test pig kidney transplant in human patient

The surgical team examines the pig kidney for any signs of hyperacute rejection

A pig kidney has been transplanted into a human without triggering immediate rejection by the recipient’s immune system.

According to Reuters, this is the first time the procedure was done and it’s a potentially major advance that could eventually help alleviate a dire shortage of human organs for transplant.

The procedure done at NYU Langone Health in New York City 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 was a brain-dead patient with signs of kidney dysfunction whose family consented to the experiment before she was due to be taken off of life support.

For three days, the new kidney was attached to her blood vessels and maintained outside her body, giving researchers access to it.

Test results of the transplanted kidney’s function “looked pretty normal,” said transplant surgeon Dr. Robert Montgomery, who led the study.

The kidney made “the amount of urine that you would expect” from a transplanted human kidney, he said, and there was no evidence of the vigorous, early rejection seen when unmodified pig kidneys are transplanted into non-human primates.

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