Press releases
08.09      2022

The first Xenotransplantation – What can scientists learn?

Physicians and scientists worldwide have for decades been pursuing the goal of transplanting animal organs into people, known as xenotransplantation.

The first person to receive a transplanted heart from a genetically modified pig is doing well. The heart used in the transplant came from a pig with several genetic modifications, including some to knock out genes that trigger the human immune system.

The procedure was performed in Baltimore, Maryland and the Researchers hope that a person who has so far lived for a week with a genetically modified pig heart will provide a trove of data on the possibilities of xenotransplantation. Interestingly, in 2021, surgeons at New York University Langone Health transplanted kidneys from the same line of genetically modified pigs into two legally dead people with no discernible brain function. The organs were not rejected and functioned normally while the deceased recipients were sustained on ventilators.

The dream of transferring bodily organs from animals to humans goes back to antiquity, as articulated in the myth of Daedalus and Icarus. But the genuine possibility of xenotransplantation is largely a creature of the last half-century.

That possibility raises a plethora of genuine ethical issues, as well as spurious ones occasioned by societal ignorance of science. So, what do you think about xenotransplantation, do you agree?