Researchers: Pig Kidney Transplanted into Human Functions for 32 Days

Photo: Unsplash

The Facts

  • Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and New York University (NYU) Langone Health both independently reported research on Wednesday that shows genetically modified pig kidneys transplanted into humans functioned well for one week and a record 32 days, respectively.

  • These results give promise to xenotransplantation, where humans receive organ transplants from other animals, as animal organs are typically rejected by the human body in the minutes after the transplant. The NYU team says the pig kidney has the functions of a healthy human kidney.

The Spin

Narrative A

Thousands of Americans die every year waiting for an organ transplant, as the dream of xenotransplantation finally seems within reach. Leaps and bounds have been made in a lifesaving field of research, but the FDA and insurers need to be ready to help get it to the American people. There is now enough evidence to start clinical trials in living patients, and organ shortages could finally become a thing of the past if we move quickly.

Narrative B

Pigs are sentient creatures who feel fear and pain, and should not be treated as a source of spare parts. These genetically modified animals live miserable lives, and their organs could pose a health risk to humans, carrying diseases unknown to us. There are real steps we could take to stop the organ shortage, such as making organ donation opt-out and using engineered human tissue, that do not involve this unconscionable practice.

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