Learn more about one of the first kidney xenotransplantations, and how it might impact care for patients with end-stage kidney disease.
Kidney Week 2022 will highlight some of the latest developments in nephrology and kidney care. And in a session titled, “Making the Impossible Possible: First-in-Human Clinical Grade Kidney Xenotransplant, transplant surgeon Dr. Jayme E. Locke will present a lecture on a solution for the organ supply crisis.
Dr. Locke is a Professor of Surgery and the Arnold G. Diethelm, MD, Endowed Chair in Transplantation Surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She specializes in innovative strategies for the transplantation of incompatible organs, disparities in access to and outcomes after organ transplantation, and transplantation and HIV-infected end-stage patients. She’s also the Surgical Director of a kidney transplant program and coordinator of the UAB kidney chain, which is the longest-living kidney transplant chain in the United States.
In an effort to save the lives of patients with end-stage kidney disease, Dr. Locke and her team performed a procedure where they placed two genetically modified pig kidneys into the abdomen of a brain-dead human after removing the recipient’s native kidneys. They then assessed kidney function to see how well the transplanted kidneys filtered out blood, produced urine, and how well the body accepted them.
They found that the kidneys were not rejected and remained viable over a 74-hour period With no transmission of porcine retroviruses detected. More Details on the study can be found in the American Journal of Transplantation.
This study, according to Dr. Locke and her team, may be a big step forward for the future of kidney transplantation it may allow surgeons to be able to transplant patients with end-stage kidney disease faster than ever before.
“The opportunity, the notion, the concept of being able to literally have an organ on the shelf that is just waiting there for the person who needs it is remarkable to think about,” Dr. Locke said. “It’s exciting for our patients. I feel very privileged to be a very tiny part of a really big puzzle that people have been working on for many, many years.”
The results of this study may impact the way we manage transplantation in the future, and for communities with limited access to transplants and high rates of end-stage kidney disease, innovations in this area are vital to community health. And in Dr. Locke’s Alabama community, this continues to be a big problem.
“End-stage disease in Alabama is a huge problem. Our residents face high rates of end-stage kidney disease,” Dr. Locke explained. “UAB’s commitment to help figure out creative ways to find more organs — whether it be getting behind the incompatible kidney transplant program and expanding living donation, or launching the Hep-C positive into negative deceased donor program, or in this case, making substantial investments and building out a xenotransplantation program that involves developing and building a pathogen-free facility where these animals can be raised so we can ensure we don’t transmit any viruses to humans from these animals — is remarkable.”