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Chinese doctors set new record for pig liver transplant

By Chen Meiling | | Updated: 2024-03-15 17:58
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Xijing Hospital in Xi'an, Shaanxi province. [Photo/VCG]

Doctors at the Xijing Hospital of Air Force Military Medical University in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, successfully transplanted a pig's liver into a patient. As of Thursday, the liver has functioned for over 96 hours, breaking the previous record.

After a 9-hour surgery, doctors transplanted the entire liver of a multi-gene-edited pig into a patient who was brain dead. During the surgery, the liver began secreting bile after blood flow was restored, and no hyperacute rejection was observed, according to the university's WeChat account on Thursday.

Tao Kaishan, director of the hospital's hepatological surgery department, said the transplanted liver has shown excellent bile secretion, blood supply and pathological results, surpassing the team's expectations.

Dou Kefeng, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a professor at the hospital's liver and gallbladder surgery department, said the case showed that a pig's liver may be able to replace a human's.

"It represents a significant breakthrough in xenotransplantation and a crucial step forward for clinical application of xenogeneic liver transplantation," Dou said.

China has about 400 million patients with liver disease, with 300,000 to 500,000 new cases of liver failure each year. For liver failure, liver transplantation is the only effective curative method, but in reality, many people lose their lives because they cannot wait for a liver donor, experts said.

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