Sunday, December 5, 2021

Organ shortages for transplantation: Pig kidneys won't be transplanted into people soon

 Here's an article in Medpage Today by the chief medical officer at UNOS, pointing out that xenotransplantation is not going to substitute in the near term for other efforts to increase organ transplants. (The article goes on to discuss recent progress in other directions.)

A Look at Pig Kidneys in the Broader Transplantation Puzzle— Advancements across the field are accelerating in real time  by David Klassen, MD November 29, 2021

"Last month's breaking news that the kidney of a pig functioned normally when attached for 54 hours to the body of a brain-dead patient was hailed as an eventual solution for more than 100,000 people nationwide who are waiting for life-saving organs. While xenotransplantation, or animal-to-human transplantation, has been undergoing study and experimentation for quite some time, this was a huge step in the right direction.

As first reported on October 18, the team at NYU Langone Health obtained consent from the ventilated donor's family to attach a pig kidney to her upper leg and monitor the results. They reported that the organ, which came from an animal whose genes had been modified to avoid early rejection by a human host, began to work almost immediately and produce urine and function as would a human kidney. The pig kidney functioned normally throughout the 54-hour trial.


"Unfortunately, the next steps remain incredibly complex. Routine xenotransplantation of non-human organs into human bodies is many years away. One of the greatest hurdles is immunological: getting non-human organs to survive long-term, not just for a 54-hour trial. Due to the need for additional research and testing, it is unlikely that xenotransplantation will arrive in time to help most of those currently on the transplant waitlist, including more than 90,000 kidney transplant candidates."

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