Medical miracles occur on a daily basis, ranging from patients coming up from comas to diseases disappearing. However, some doctors are working to improve the ways we employ to obtain essential organs. New York City doctors have successfully linked a kidney grown inside a pig to a human, according to the New York Times. The patient, who has not been recognized, appears to have died of brain death. They had signed up to be an organ donor. None of their organs, however, were “fit” for transplant. After the patient’s family provided their permission, the body was used for study. The Operation The pig kidney was linked to blood veins in the patient’s upper thigh and shielded while he was on a ventilator. It did what it was supposed to do.
“Almost quickly,” the kidney received the blood, processed urine, and waste product creatinine. The operation was performed in September, and the organ was examined for 54 hours. The kidney came from a pig that had been genetically modified to produce human organs that would not be rejected by the body. The medical technique that took place is known as xenotransplantation. This operation “involves the transplanting, implantation, or infusion” of “living cells, tissues, or organs from a nonhuman animal source,” according to the FDA. Transplants are required. Scientists have been working around the clock to come up with new strategies to meet the growing demand for organ transplants.
According to estimates, more than 100,000 Americans are on the transplant waiting list. A total of 90,240 patients on the waiting list require kidney transplants. The recent kidney procedure was performed by Robert Montgomery, the director of New York University’s Langone Health Transplant Institute. “Up until now, the field has been locked in the preclinical primate stage,” Dr. Montgomery explained, “since going from primate to living human is viewed as a tremendous jump.” What is the significance of pigs? According to Vice, United Therapeutics provided him with a $3.2 million grant to help pay the medical endeavor.
The pharmaceutical firm based in Maryland focuses on “new pharmaceutical therapeutics” and “technologies that improve the availability of transplantable organs.” Pigs and organ procurement appear to be a good combination. They’re “easier to grow, mature faster, and attain adult human size in six months,” according to the New York Times. Humans are also not strangers to using pig body parts. Pig heart values, pig pancreas cells, and pig skin have already been used in medical operations.
Although the idea might be off-putting to some, United Therapeutics’ CEO Martine Rothblatt doesn’t think so.“Weird does not mean unethical. There’s a 45-degree line on a graph—as long as the utility exceeds the yuckiness, social acceptance wins,” Martine said. “Taking organs from dead people and putting them in living people once seemed weird, it’s not weird anymore. It would be stupid to abjure nature’s greatest invention since chemistry.”