Scientists may have just paved the way for animals to be successful organ donors for humans thanks to an amazing team of top doctors at NYU Langone Health. The procedure, which took place on September 25, was 2-hours long and called Xenotransplantation.
How Are You Doing This?
The team of doctors headed by Dr. Robert Montgomery has been attempting to perfect this procedure for some time now. Normally, a human body rejects organs from animal species but this time around the kidney was “gene-edited to eliminate a sugar” which was causing the rejection.
The transplant was done on a brain dead patient with permission from her family. After the procedure, the patient was on a 54-hour study. The kidney was not closed up inside of the body, instead, it was attached to a large blood vessel and monitored outside of the body.
Dr. Montgomery released a statement about the procedure calling it a “transformative moment in organ transplantation.”
The doctor sat down with CBS Evening News where he detailed the energy in the surgical room. “There was complete silence for a few minutes while we were sort of taking in what we were looking at, which was incredible.”
He shared that there was no wait, “It was a kidney that was immediately functioning.” Seeing as this was a success, NYU Langone will soon open its doors for clinical trials for critically ill patients.
Leaps & Bounds
Kidney failure is more common than most realize but keep in mind, they are not the only organ that patients are waiting on. The United Network for Organ Sharing data says that there are over 100,000 people currently waiting for organ transplants, 90,000 of them are waiting for a kidney.
The high number has impacted people from all walks of life. Most famously Selena Gomez shared that her best friend and fellow actress Francia Raisa donated a kidney to her in an emergency transplant. “She volunteered and did it… The fact that she was a match, I mean, that’s unbelievable,” said Gomez of the experience. Unbelievable, indeed, finding a match that easily is actually good luck.
Modern Family star Sarah Hyland had two kidney transplants the first one from her father, and her brother donated the second one. Although, she had mixed feelings about the second transplant. “For a long time, I was contemplating suicide because I didn’t want to fail my little brother like I failed my dad.”
Before passing from heart failure in 2015, singer Natalie Cole received a kidney from an adoring fan that had recently passed away but apparently wanted to help Cole with her struggle before they passed. It lasted her six years and possibly longer if her heart hadn’t given out.
‘Important Step Forward’
Dr. Montgomery is optimistic about what this procedure means for the future, he was once on the donor list himself. “I was one of those people lying in an ICU waiting and not knowing whether an organ was going to come in time.”
His medical partners echo his excitement. United Therapeutics CEO Martine Rothblatt, stated, “This is an important step forward in realizing the promise of xenotransplantation, which will save thousands of lives each year in the not-too-distant future.”
Montgomery says the kidney procedure can be used to save a living human in one to two years’ time. “I think it will be something that eventually will be perfected to the point where it’ll be an alternative to a human organ.”