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Grandma receives first pig kidney transplant combined with mechanical heart

A 54-year-old grandmother has successfully received the first-ever combined pig kidney and mechanical heart pump transplant. 

Lisa Pisano, a New Jersey native with end-stage kidney disease and heart failure, was not a candidate for heart and kidney transplant due to the shortage of human organ donations and chronic health conditions that minimized her likelihood of a good outcome. 

She said: “All I want is the opportunity to have a better life.

“After I was ruled out for a human transplant, I learned I didn’t have a lot of time left.

“My doctors thought there may be a chance I could be approved to receive a gene-edited pig kidney, so I discussed it with my family and my husband. He has been by my side throughout this ordeal and wants me to be better.”

NYU Langone Health surgeons carried out an innovative two-stage procedure earlier this month in New York. On April 4, they surgically implanted a heart pump called a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) on Pisano. 

Then on April 12, they performed a successful gene-edited pig kidney transplant on her. It included a pig’s thymus gland to help against her body rejecting the animal organ. 

Grandma receives first pig kidney transplant combined with mechanical heart

Nearly two weeks later, Pisano has not shows any signs of organ rejection.

“It is incredible to consider the scientific achievements that have led to our ability to save Lisa’s life, and what we are endeavoring to do as a society for everyone in need of a lifesaving organ,” stated lead surgeon Robert Montgomery on Wednesday, April 24, when the NYU Langone Health announced the feat.

Montgomery, who performed the world’s first gene-edited pig kidney transplant to a braindead person in 2021, said Pisano’s procedure will “bring closer the possibility that no one will have to die, waiting for someone else to die, so they can be saved”. 

While Slayman is the world’s first pig kidney transplant patient, Pisano is the first to receive a pig kidney transplant plus a heart pump.

Grandma receives first pig kidney transplant combined with mechanical heart

“This unique approach is the first time in the world that LVAD surgery has been done on a dialysis patient with a subsequent plan to transplant a kidney,” stated Nader Moazami, chief of NYU Grossman School of Medicine’s Division of Heart and Lung Transplantation. 

“The measure for success is a chance at a better quality of life and to give Lisa more time to spend with her family.”

Pisano’s daughter, Brittany Harvill, said she hopes her mother will soon be able to go home and spend time with her grandkids. 

“I saw her for the first time after the surgery – and even this morning,” said Harvill, according to the New York Post. “And she looks like the best she’s looked and sounds in years.”

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