The team at New York University, Langone Health, achieved this milestone on August 16, 2023, making history by keeping a pig kidney viable within a deceased human body for a month, the longest duration recorded so far.
Dr. Robert Montgomery, head of NYU Langone’s transplant institute, expressed cautious optimism, stating:
“Is this organ really going to work like a human organ? So far it’s looking like it is.”
For decades, attempts at animal-to-human organ transplants, known as xenotransplantation, have failed due to immune system rejection. However, scientists are now using genetically modified pigs whose organs are better suited to match human bodies.
Last year, with regulatory permission, University of Maryland surgeons transplanted a gene-edited pig heart into a dying man, though the heart only functioned for two months before failing for reasons not entirely understood.
Dr. Montgomery, himself a heart transplant recipient, understands the critical need for new organ sources. While this remarkable progress offers hope, only prolonged testing can reveal the true potential of this groundbreaking approach. The future of xenotransplantation holds exciting possibilities that could reshape the landscape of organ transplantation.