New York, AS —
Surgeons transplant pig kidneys into people who are brain dead, a condition in which the brain is no longer functioning and is legally considered dead. For more than a month, the kidney was functioning normally. It’s an important step towards a transplant that the New York team hopes will eventually be tried on living patients.
Scientists across the country are racing to learn how to use animal organs to save human lives. Bodies donated to research make great training possible.
The latest experiment announced Wednesday by NYU Langone Health is the longest functioning pig kidney in humans, despite death. The experiment isn’t over. Researchers set to track the kidney’s performance for a second month.
“Is this organ really going to function like a human organ? So far it seems so,” said director of the transplant institute NYU Langone, Dr. Robert Montgomery told the Associated Press news agency.
For decades, attempts at animal-to-human transplants failed because the human immune system attacked foreign tissue. Now the research team is using genetically modified pigs so their organs are better suited to the human body.
The NYU experiment is one in a series of developments aimed at accelerating the start of these clinical trials. Also Wednesday, the University of Alabama at Birmingham reported another notable success — a pair of pig kidneys worked normally for seven days in another donated body. (ka/lt)