This Little Piggy Donated a Kidney (to a Human)

Science really keeps chugging along

Hands hold a human kidney model on red background. Prevention of stones.
Medical Marvel

Surgeons at NYU Langone Health successfully transplanted a pig kidney into a human, marking a monumental scientific breakthrough that could be life-saving for the more than 100,000 people in the U.S. who need organ transplants.

The kidney was from a genetically altered pig whose genes were edited to eliminate a sugar molecule that, due to being foreign to the human body, would prompt a swift rejection response, the AP reports. Surgeons attached the kidney to blood vessels outside the body of a brain-dead patient, whose family consented to the experiment, and monitored the results for 54 hours. The kidney started functioning “almost immediately,” Robert Montgomery, the doctor who performed the procedure in September, told the New York Times. The expectation is that, since the kidney worked while attached outside the body, it will likely work inside the body in future transplants. However, that future may still be a long way off, as questions about long-term results, regulatory approval, the risk of potential pig-to-human zoonotic illness, animal welfare, and overall ethics still abound.

But still — wow. A pig kidney in a human. Would you look at that? I'm sure there are some sophisticated souls out there who would take this opportunity to make a “Bad Art Friend” joke right about here, since that story also revolves around kidney donation (albeit human-to-human). For example: The pig noticed you haven’t engaged in its kidney donor Facebook group yet. Or: Let’s hope the braindead patient doesn’t write any short stories that they will try to gaslight the pig about. Or maybe: The Chunky Monkey writing group should rebrand as the Pudgy Piggies. Or, since we’re brainstorming: The pig had a hog savior complex, but y’all aren’t ready for that conversation.

But not I. Instead, I tremble before the altar of Science, the Great and Terrible. Do I like it? I don’t know. Does it creep me out? Maybe a little. Does my opinion matter at all? No. Any parting thoughts? Just marveling that humankind keeps doing stuff, for better or worse. Oink oink.