'Potential Miracle': US Surgeons Conduct Transplant of Pig Kidney in Human Being

This is the first time that a xenotransplantation has involved human beings, although the use of pigs is not new.

Health News
2 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Image used for representational purposes only.&nbsp;</p></div>

The surgeons at NYU (New York University) Langone Health have announced the successful completion of a two-hour transplant operation involving a pig's kidney to a person, The New York Times reported.

The groundbreaking discovery was initially reported by the newspaper USA Today on Tuesday, 19 October.

The experimental operation known as xenotransplantation in the world of science, took place on 25 September, consisting of a genetically altered pig and its kidney, along with and a brain-dead patient with the consent of his family.

The conclusions are yet to be peer-reviewed.

The kidney was modified in a way that the human body does not perceive it as "foreign" and consequently doesn't reject it or fight against it.

The kidney was linked to the blood vessels of the recipient to see whether the latter would reject the kidney or not.

This is the first time that such an experiment has been conducted involving human beings, but the utilisation of pigs for transplants is not something novel.

Pig heart valves have been used extensively in human beings for more years now, BBC reported.

The choice of a pig as the animal donor, while seemingly strange at first, makes sense because its organs are roughly the same size as that of humans.

The demand for organs is rapidly outpacing the supply, according to The Economist. The discovery therefore, is an essential one.


Twitter Reacts 

Twitter erupted with amazement and admiration for the discovery.

Some even went on to approve of the non-medical aspects of the experiment in addition to applauding the science.

The Assam Doctor Whose Experiment Was Deemed Unethical 

In the year 1997, an Assamese surgeon named Dr Dhani Ram Baruah, in collaboration with Hong Kong surgeon Dr Jonathan Ho Kei-Shing, carried out a xenotransplantation (pig to human) of the heart and lungs in Guwahati, at his own facility, The Quint Fit reported.

The 32-year-old Purno Saikia, on whom the transplant was conducted on, died in a week due to contracting an infection by developing an "anti-hyperacute rejection biochemical solution", Dr. Baruah told the Indian Express.

Both doctors were charged with culpable homicide and for violation of the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994, and jailed for almost six weeks.

The Assam Government's investigation deemed the experiment as unethical.

Despite all of that, Dr. Baruah's name has reappeared in the news for other medical reasons. In 2008, he claimed that he had created a "genetically engineered" vaccine found successful in treating congenital heart defects, according to Times of India.

In 2015, he announced that he knew how to “cure” HIV/AIDS, the Indian Express reported.

(With inputs from USA Today, New York Times, BBC, The Economist, The Quint Fit, the Times of India, the Indian Express, and Twitter)

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