March 21, 2024

Surgeons complete first successful animal-to-human kidney transplant

Editor's Note

A 62-year-old man in Weymouth, Massachusetts is reportedly recovering well several days after receiving the first kidney to be transplanted into a living person. As noted in a March 21 report in the Boston Globe, the operation at Massachusetts General Hospital marked a new milestone in the effort to make animal organs compatible with human bodies.

Other examples of progress within the past few years include two successful pig heart transplants into men who lived as long as seven weeks, while kidney experiments have focused on brain-dead people and non-human primates, the report notes.

The same company supplied pig organs for the milestone kidney surgery and the non-human primate experiments. To make the operations possible, the company uses CRISPR gene-editing technology to inactivate pig viruses and eliminate features that would cause rejection by the human body.

The patient volunteered for the surgery after a donated kidney failed in its fifth year and further surgery failed. He was reportedly a good candidate for the experiment because he was in “reasonably good health” aside from kidney failure and diabetes, said Dr. Winfred Williams, transplant nephrologist and associate chief of the renal division at Mass. General.  

As of the March 21 report, doctors continued to monitor the patients, noting that he will probably be discharged within the next few days if he continues to thrive.

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