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Two pig kidneys were successfully transplanted into Jim Parsons, a brain-dead patient, by surgeons at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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Peeyush Ghalot
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(Image Courtesy: - NBC News)

Dr. Jayme Locke, the primary surgeon, delicately stitched the first pig kidney into James Parsons, a 57-year-old carpenter, and father from Huntsville, Alabama. Parsons had been knocked brain-dead in a dirt bike race just days before. He had long communicated to his family his intention to donate his organs once he died as a registered organ donor. If the surgical trial is successful, it might change organ donation since shortages have resulted in years-long waiting lists for patients in severe need of transplants. The dozen or so individuals in the operating room would know that Parsons' immune system was rejecting the new organs if the kidneys went black within minutes. The American Journal of Transplantation published peer-reviewed results of the innovative surgery on Thursday. The surgeons obtained approval from Parsons' family before removing his kidneys for the experiment. The gene-edited pig kidneys the transplanted functioned for 77 hours after surgeons removed them. The study is part of a burgeoning discipline called xenotransplantation, which aims to overcome the shortage of human organs.

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