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2021-11-01| Special

Xenotransplantation-A Boon for the Needy or an Ethical Conundrum?

by Arvind C. Shekhar
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For long, scientists and surgeons alike have imagined a day when there would be no shortage in the availability of human organs for transplantation. This dream finally appears to be turning into a reality in a not-so-distant future.  While human organ donation is the method of choice, scientists have long sought to solve organ shortage by using animal organs, a field known as "xenotransplantation."

As a first step towards turning feasible xenotransplantation into reality, surgeons at NYU Langone Health successfully attached a kidney grown in a genetically altered pig to a brain-dead human patient sustained on a ventilator and found that the organ worked normally.

The researchers followed the body's response while taking measures of the kidney's function for 54 hours per guidance from ethics reviewers. The pig's thymus gland, which can help educate the immune system to recognize the kidney as part of the body, was also transplanted with the kidney to improve its chances of acceptance, Dr. Robert Montgomery, the Director of the NYU Langone Transplant Institute, who performed the procedure said.

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