BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A medical breakthrough has happened at the University of Alabama, as the Birmingham Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine announced today it has published a study detailing the successful transplant of a genetically modified pig’s kidney into the body of a brain-dead human.
The study, published in the American Journal of Transplantation, explained that the pig kidneys were taken from animals that had been genetically modified to make the kidneys viable for humans.
The patient’s own kidneys were removed, and when the pig’s kidneys were transplanted, they began functioning and making urine after about 23 minutes and continued to do so for three days, The New York Times reported.
This experimental surgery has the potential to revolutionize organ donation through xenotransplantation, which is using animal organs to try to solve the lack of human organs available, NBC News reported.
“Our goal is not to have a one-off, but to advance the field to help our patients. What a wonderful day it will be when I can walk into a clinic and know I have a kidney for everyone waiting to see me,” Dr. Locke, the director of U.A.B.’s Incompatible Kidney Transplant Program, told The New York Times.
The man who received the pig’s kidneys, James Parsons, was declared brain-dead after crashing during a motorcycle race, The Wall Street Journal reported. His family consented to his body being used for the experiment.
“I just wish that I could see the look on his face knowing that, my gosh, he has potentially led the way to saving hundreds of thousands of people’s lives. I think he would be so proud that he was able to do that,” Parson’s ex-wife, Julie O’Hara, told NBC News.
There are currently more than 100,000 people on the national transplant waiting list, and 17 people die each day while waiting for an organ transplant, according to Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.
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