Woman Who Received first-ever Combined Heart Pump And Pig Kidney Transplant Dies

Lisa Pisano, the first person to receive a mechanical heart pump as well as a gene-edited pig kidney, has, according to NYU Langone Health, where she had the surgery. Fifty-four-year-old Pisano received the transplant in April, but the organ failed due to limited blood flow and was removed the next month. Read on to know more.
Lisa Pisano has died

At 54, Pisano was the first person to receive a mechanical heart pump along with a gene-edited pig kidney (Pic: AFP/File)

A 54-year-old grandmother - the first person to receive a mechanical heart pump along with a gene-edited pig kidney has died, as revealed by NYU Langone Health. Lisa Pisano received the transplant in April this year but had organ failure due to limited blood flow. In May, her doctors at Langone removed the transplant.
According to NYU Langone, Pisano was the first case of a reported organ transplant in a person with a mechanical heart pump and the second transplant of a gene-edited pig kidney into a living recipient. Doctors had previously tested a pig kidney transplant on brain-dead patients.
Dr. Robert Montgomery, Director of the NYU Langone Transplant Institute, called her brave and altruistic. "Lisa's contributions to medicine, surgery, and xenotransplantation cannot be overstated," said Dr. Montgomery in a statement. “Her legacy as a pioneer will live on and she will forever be remembered for her courage and good nature,” the statement read.

Pisano suffered heart and kidney failure

Before she underwent the procedure, Pisano had heart failure and end-stage kidney disease that required regular dialysis. "I was pretty much done," Pisano told CBS News earlier. "I couldn't go up the stairs. I couldn't drive. I couldn't play with my grandkids. So, when this opportunity came to me, I was taking it."
The pig kidney she was given had been genetically altered to evade human antibodies - which detect and attack foreign organs. The pig’s thymus gland, which is important for immunity, was placed beneath the pig kidney’s cover to further help Pisano’s body accept the organ.
However, the kidney was removed in May after it was determined that it was “no longer contributing enough to justify continuing the immunosuppression regimen,” Montgomery said at the time. Earlier this year, a pig’s kidney was transplanted into a 62-year-old man who passed away within two months due to complications. However, doctors said there were no indications his death was a result of the transplant.
According to statistics, more than 104,000 people across the United States are on the waiting list for a transplant, with more than 80 per cent of those patients waiting for a kidney. Also, 8,08,000 people suffer from end-stage kidney disease, but only about 27,000 received transplants last year.

Why are pig kidneys used for transplants?

Experts say a pig’s kidney gives a better understanding of the role one key stable change in the genome can have in making xenotransplantation a viable alternative.
Pigs are often used as donors for xenotransplantation because their organs are anatomically and physiologically similar to human organs. Pigs also come in many sizes, are easy to breed, and there are no ethical objections to using their organs since millions are slaughtered annually for human consumption.
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