They transplanted a pig kidney into a living person for the first time in history

They transplanted a pig kidney into a living person for the first time in history

BarcelonaA giant step in the science of organ transplantation. Last weekend, a hospital in Boston, United States, achieved an unprecedented feat: transplanting a pig kidney into a living person. On Saturday, Rick Solomon, a 62-year-old man with end-stage kidney disease, underwent surgery to obtain a genetically modified pig kidney. The operation, which was announced on Monday, was performed at Massachusetts General Hospital. Before this intervention, other attempts had been made: on a brain-dead woman who had a pig kidney transplanted in New York in 2021, and on living monkeys.

The operation took four hours, and according to a hospital statement, the patient is recovering well and will be able to be discharged “soon.” Solomon was transplanted with a laboratory-modified pig kidney. In particular, 69 gene edits were made through CRISPR-Cas9, a technology that allows removing potentially harmful pig genes, thus integrating human genes to make the organ compatible with the human body. In addition, to reduce infection, the scientists responsible for the modification also inactivated pig endogenous retroviruses, a type of virus that originates in an organism's genetic material.

As he waits for the transplant to progress, Suleiman's life also needs to improve dramatically. The man had been suffering from type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure for years. At the end of 2018, he actually entered the operating room to be the recipient of a human kidney, but after five years the organ began to cause him problems and he had to undergo dialysis sessions again. This operation also caused problems with his blood vessels, forcing him to undergo examinations in the hospital every two weeks.

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The ability to speed up compatibility

The American hospital described Saturday's operation as a “first-class milestone” in being able to find available organs for patients quickly and without potential recipients having to wait years for a compatible human organ. In fact, there is a serious shortage of organs needed for transplants in the United States. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the only legal organ procurement and transplant network in the United States, more than 100,000 Americans are on waiting lists and 17 people die every day waiting for an organ. Kidneys are the most in demand organ.

“Nearly seven decades after the first successful kidney transplant, our doctors have once again demonstrated our commitment to providing innovative treatments and helping reduce the burden of disease for our patients and other patients around the world,” explained President and CEO of the Hans Foundation. General Brigham's Mass, Dr. Anne Klibanski. According to details from Massachusetts General Hospital, the animal kidney transplanted on Saturday came from a pig provided by eGenesis. The company specializes in what they call “organ transplantation,” a process of modifying animal organisms and making them compatible with humans.

In Catalonia, the most common transplant is also a kidney. In fact, 976 kidneys were transplanted in Catalan hospitals last year alone, ahead of liver (226), lung (102) or heart (56) transplants. Although Catalonia is one of the world leaders in organ donation and in 2023, 187 people donated a kidney, there are currently still around a thousand patients on the waiting list for a compatible kidney.

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