Pig kidney transplant sets record at NYU Langone with 32-day function

Surgeons at NYU Langone are celebrating. It's been 32 days and the pig kidney they transplanted into a man is continuing to function.  

"There was a feeling among many of our colleagues that this just wouldn't be possible to maintain a decedent for this period of time," said Dr. Robert Montgomery. 

The sister of 57-year-old Maurice Miller, who was declared brain-dead after a brain tumor, decided to donate his body to the experiment.


A pig's kidney worked normally in a donated human body for over a month, doctors say

The experiment at NYU Langone Health marks the longest a pig kidney has functioned in a person, albeit a deceased one.

With his heart still beating, the doctors behind the experiment say the pig kidney is functioning just as a human kidney would. And so far, over 32 days, which is the longest period to date, Miller's body is not rejecting the genetically edited organ, first, because they knocked out the gene that would cause the human body to reject it, and second because they used the pig’s thymus gland to help implant it.  

"The pigs that were used to produce this kidney in this study are bred," Montgomery said. "They're not cloned, which means that the gene edits are stable and consistent between pigs." 

NYU Lagone believes if they breed enough of these pigs, they can eventually provide an unlimited source of kidneys for the nearly 100-thousand patients who need them. Until then doctors will continue monitoring Miller's body, and hopefully get closer to starting a clinical trial phase.