“This is truly a leading edge translational surgery and transplant that is on the verge of being able to do this in living humans,” said Dr. Amy Friedman, former transplant surgeon and chief medical officer of LiveOnNY, the organ procurement organization for the greater New York City area.
The group was involved in the selection and identification of the brain dead patient receiving the experimental procedure. The patient was a registered organ donor, and because the organs were not suitable for transplantation, the patient’s family agreed to authorize research to test the experimental transplant procedure.
Dr Friedman said she is also considering using hearts, livers and other organs grown in pigs. “It’s really mind-boggling to think of how many transplants we could offer,” she said, adding, “You have to raise the pigs, of course. “
Other experts were more reserved, saying they wanted to see if the results were reproducible and review the data collected by NYU Langone.
“There is no doubt that this is a feat in that it is difficult to do and you have to overcome a lot of obstacles,” said Dr. Jay A. Fishman, Associate Director from the Massachusetts General Hospital Transplant Center.
“Whether this particular study advances the field will depend on what data they’ve collected and shared, or whether it’s a step just to show they can do it,” said Dr. Fishman. He urged humility “about what we know”.
There are still many hurdles to overcome before organs from genetically modified pigs can be used on living humans, said Dr David Klassen, chief medical officer of the United Network for Organ Sharing.