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US Surgeons perform the first pig to human kidney transplant

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Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston announced the successful transplantation of a kidney from a genetically modified pig into a 62-year-old man with end-stage renal disease.

This groundbreaking surgery, conducted on March 16, signifies a significant step forward in providing more readily available organs to patients, the hospital disclosed in a statement.

The recipient, Richard Slayman of Weymouth, Massachusetts, is reported to be recovering well following the four-hour surgery and is expected to be discharged soon, according to hospital officials.

Dr. Jim Kim, director of kidney and pancreas transplantation at the USC Transplant Institute in Los Angeles, highlighted the immense interest among experts in the long-term outcomes of this pioneering animal-to-human transplant.

Previous studies had demonstrated promising results with kidneys from similarly edited pigs transplanted into monkeys, with survival periods ranging from an average of 176 days to over two years, researchers reported in October in the journal Nature.

Dr. Robert Montgomery, director of the NYU Langone Transplant Institute, hailed the surgery’s significance in advancing xenotransplantation, emphasizing its potential to serve as an alternative source of organs for the hundreds of thousands suffering from kidney failure.

Currently, more than 100,000 people in the U.S. await organ transplants, with kidneys being in high demand.

Montgomery noted that transplant centers are exploring various approaches in gene editing and medications, awaiting authorization from the FDA to conduct clinical trials for further insights into optimizing treatments for patients on waiting lists.

While previous attempts, such as the University of Maryland’s transplant of a genetically modified pig heart into a terminally ill patient in January 2022, have faced challenges, the successful kidney transplant represents a significant advancement in the quest to address the organ shortage crisis and improve patient outcomes in transplantation.

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