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Doctors successfully transplant pig kidney into brain-dead man

American Journal of Transplantation
Reuters Health - 27/01/2022 - It's been an exciting month for transplant medicine.

Earlier this month, a team at the University of Maryland announced the successful transplant of a genetically modified pig's heart into a man with terminal cancer.

This week, a team from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) says they successfully transplanted two kidneys from a genetically modified pig into a brain-dead man after his native kidneys were removed.

The transplanted kidneys filtered blood and produced variable amounts of urine, although creatinine clearance did not recover. Longitudinal biopsies revealed thrombotic microangiopathy that did not progress in severity.

"Whether renal recovery was impacted by the milieu of brain death and/or microvascular injury remains unknown," the research team reports in the American Journal of Transplantation.

No chimerism or transmission of porcine retroviruses was detected and the pig kidneys were not immediately rejected, but remained viable until the study ended 74 hours after transplant.

"This game-changing moment in the history of medicine represents a paradigm shift and a major milestone in the field of xenotransplantation, which is arguably the best solution to the organ shortage crisis," lead surgeon Dr. Jayme Locke, director of the Comprehensive Transplant Institute in UAB's Department of Surgery, said in a news release.

"We have bridged critical knowledge gaps and obtained the safety and feasibility data necessary to begin a clinical trial in living humans with end-stage kidney failure disease," he noted.

This advance in xenotransplantation would not have been possible without the transplant recipient, Jim Parsons, and his family, the UAB notes in the news release.

Parsons, 57, was a registered organ donor through Legacy of Hope, Alabama's organ-procurement organization, and he had always wanted to have his organs help others upon his death; but his organs were not suitable for donation.

His family allowed UAB to maintain Parsons on a ventilator to keep his body functioning while his native kidneys were removed and the pig kidneys transplanted.

"Mr. Parsons and his family allowed us to replicate precisely how we would perform this transplant in a living human. Their powerful contribution will save thousands of lives, and that could begin in the very near future," Dr. Locke said in the release. "Mr. Parsons' gift honors his legacy and firmly establishes the viability, safety and feasibility of this preclinical model. Because of his gift, we have proposed this to be known as 'The Parsons Model.'"

SOURCE: https://bit.ly/33QGelp American Journal of Transplantation, online January 20, 2022.

By Reuters Staff

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