HEALTH WATCH: Pig transplants expected to make progress


NEW YORK (CBS Newspath) — Scientists in New York are reporting a breakthrough in organ transplantation. Researchers at NYU Langone Health successfully transplanted a pig kidney into a human body that was donated to science.

CBS News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook spoke with the doctor leading this research. “We were sort of taking in what we were looking at, which was incredible, it was a kidney that was immediately functioning,” says Dr. Robert Montgomery, the director of the NYU Langone Transplant Institute and chair of surgery.

According to Dr. Montgomery, the kidney came from a genetically engineered pig that was modified so the human body would not reject the pig organ.

The breakthrough comes at a time when there are not nearly enough organs for patients who need them. According to Donate Life America, 90,000 people in the United States are currently on the national transplant list waiting for a kidney, and the average wait time for a kidney from a deceased donor is three to five years.

Dr. Montgomery has been imaging this moment for years. Dr. LaPook asked him, “Are you thinking this is science fiction or do you think, oh yeah, of course, that’s what we do now?” Dr. Montgomery said, “Yeah, it’s kind of normalized in my mind because I’ve been thinking about it and, you know, for a very long time. So, it doesn’t seem futuristic. It seems like the future is here now.”

Dr. LaPook will have a full report on this medical milestone on Wednesday’s (10/20) CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell.

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