“Lisa Helped Bring Us Closer” Woman Who Received Pig Kidney Transplant Dies

 “Lisa Helped Bring Us Closer” Woman Who Received Pig Kidney Transplant Dies

(AP Photo/Shelby Lum, File)

A woman who received a pig kidney transplant along with an implanted device to keep her heart beating has died, her surgeon announced Tuesday. Lisa Pisano, from New Jersey, was near death from kidney and heart failure when surgeons at NYU Langone Health performed the dramatic pair of surgeries in April. Initially, Pisano seemed to be recovering well.

However, about 47 days later, doctors had to remove the pig’s kidney and put Pisano back on dialysis after the organ was damaged by her heart medications. Despite the dialysis and implanted heart pump, Pisano eventually entered hospice care and passed away on Sunday, NYU Langone transplant surgeon Dr. Robert Montgomery said in a statement, reported KBTX.

Montgomery praised Pisano’s bravery for participating in the latest pig organ-to-human experiment, known as xenotransplantation. This research aims to address the dire shortage of transplantable organs. “Lisa helped bring us closer to realizing a future where someone does not have to die for another person to live,” Montgomery said. “She will forever be remembered for her courage and good nature.”

In April, the 54-year-old Pisano told The Associated Press that she knew the pig kidney might not work but “I just took a chance. And you know, worst case scenario, if it didn’t work for me, it might have worked for someone else.”

Pisano was the second patient ever to receive a kidney from a gene-edited pig. The first, Richard “Rick” Slayman, received his transplant at Massachusetts General Hospital and died in early May, nearly two months later. His doctor has said he died of preexisting heart disease, not as a result of the transplant.

More than 100,000 people are on the U.S. transplant waiting list, most of whom need a kidney, and thousands die waiting. Several biotech companies are genetically modifying pigs so their organs are more human-like and less likely to be rejected by people’s immune systems.

In addition to the two pig kidney experiments, the University of Maryland has also transplanted pig hearts into two men who were out of other options; both died within months. Still, what doctors learned from these attempts, along with research in donated bodies, gives them hope. They aim to begin formal clinical trials sometime next year with patients who aren’t quite so sick.

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