Turning pigs into organ donors

The problem: A lot of people are waiting for life-saving organ donations, especially kidneys. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, nearly 1,800 kidneys were transplanted in 2022, but 2,813 people were still on waiting lists and 117 died before getting one.

A solution: Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston have successfully transplanted a pig’s kidney into a human. The organ came from the genome engineering company eGenesis, which genetically modified a pig to remove genes that could be harmful to humans and added ones that could improve compatibility.

  • The company also deactivated viruses pigs carry that could infect humans, and gave the patient an antibody therapy to help prevent his body from rejecting the kidney.

What’s next: Animal-to-human transplants have been done but are reserved for extreme cases, and only as a temporary measure. This could open the door to making animal organs a widely used, longer-term solution for not just for kidney transplants, but for other organs as well.