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In a surgery the first of its kind, surgeons in New York City managed to transplant a pig kidney into a human without causing an immediate rejection from the recipient's immune system. The pig's genes were genetically modified prior to the transplant so that they no longer contained a molecule known to trigger the rejection and it's thought to be a major breakthrough that could potentially help human organ shortages.

The recipient was a brain-dead individual on life support with no chance of recovery whose family agreed to the experimental surgery, however, until now similar experiments have not been carried out on humans. Transplant surgeon, Dr. Robert Montgomery, who led the test said the kidney's function "looked pretty normal," and that it produced "the amount of urine that you would expect" from a transplanted human kidney.

At the same time, using pigs for transplants is not a completely brand-new idea either, and pig heart valves are already widely used in humans, but researchers have been stalled over ways to prevent immediate rejection by the human body when it comes to transplants - until now. Dr. Montgomery's team speculated that removing the pig gene producing a carbohydrate that triggers rejection would relieve the issue and thus the genetically-altered pig was developed.

The pig, dubbed GalSafe, was approved in December 2020 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, for use as food for people with a type of meat allergy and also as a potential source of human therapeutics. Any medical products developed from the pigs will still require specific FDA approval before using them in humans but other researchers are looking in the possibility of whether these pigs could be sources of everything from heart valves to skin grafts.

Patients with end-stage kidney failure could soon see a light at the end of the tunnel with Montgomery adding that trials in patients could begin within the next year or two and is hopeful that it could pave the way as being a short-term solution until a human kidney becomes available or even as a permanent graft.

However, ethical questions surrounding the experiment have prevailed and Dr. Maryam Khosravi, a kidney doctor who works for the National Health Service in the United Kingdom said that "just because we can doesn't mean we should. I think the community at large needs to answer these questions."

What do you think of this advancement?

Can you imagine a future where human organs can be sourced from other species?

Are you worried about the ethical aspect of this kind of experiment or potential future use?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Influence your world,
Toluna Team


  7 months ago


  7 months ago


  7 months ago
As it would be sad to loose a loved one I'm not sure I would accept a modified version of a pig as I would have to be near end of life to accept a organ from an other human . This may also over populate the plant as we are struggling with the amount of humans as is.


  7 months ago
Unethical , unacceptable , unprofessional and potential future of unending failures


  7 months ago
This has gone far too! The question is Morality or Science.


  7 months ago
Different idea....if the scientist can replace or regrow kidneys for pigs then maybe.
If the pigs are grown for human consumption anyway ..then why not save humans with organs.


  7 months ago
I don't think it's right! Sounds horrific! I n this day and age where you have to opt out of organ donation there should be plenty of organs to go around.


  7 months ago


  7 months ago
No it's not ethical, like so many things in science and medicine - just because we can does not mean we should . No animal should be genetically modified this way, and with stem cell research there should be neither need , nor excuse


  7 months ago
I agree with Dr. Maryam Khosravi, ‘just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.’ It doesn’t seem ethical to me. With all the latest technological advances, there surely must be a more suitable alternative, instead of targeting another species for our gain.
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