New Jersey woman becomes second patient to receive kidney from gene-edited pig

Apr 24, 2024, 6:28 PM | Updated: 6:29 pm

Lisa Pisano looks at photos of her dog after her surgeries at NYU Langone Health in New York on Mon...

Lisa Pisano looks at photos of her dog after her surgeries at NYU Langone Health in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. Doctors transplanted a pig kidney into Pisano, who was near death, part of a dramatic pair of surgeries that also included a fix for her failing heart. (AP Photo/Shelby Lum)

(AP Photo/Shelby Lum)

NEW YORK (AP) — Doctors have transplanted a pig kidney into a New Jersey woman who was near death, part of a dramatic pair of surgeries that also stabilized her failing heart.

Lisa Pisano’s combination of heart and kidney failure left her too sick to qualify for a traditional transplant, and out of options. Then doctors at NYU Langone Health devised a novel one-two punch: Implant a mechanical pump to keep her heart beating and days later transplant a kidney from a genetically modified pig.

Pisano is recovering well, the NYU team announced Wednesday. She’s only the second patient ever to receive a pig kidney — following a landmark transplant last month at Massachusetts General Hospital – and the latest in a string of attempts to make animal-to-human transplantation a reality.

This week, the 54-year-old grasped a walker and took her first few steps.

“I was at the end of my rope,” Pisano told The Associated Press. “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 and it could have helped the next person.”

Dr. Robert Montgomery, director of NYU Langone Transplant Institute, recounted cheers in the operating room as the organ immediately started making urine.

“It’s been transformative,” Montgomery said of the experiment’s early results.

But “we’re not off the hook yet,” cautioned Dr. Nader Moazami, the NYU cardiac surgeon who implanted the heart pump.

“With this surgery I get to see my wife smile again,” Pisano’s husband Todd said Wednesday.

Other transplant experts are closely watching how the patient fares.

“I have to congratulate them,” said Dr. Tatsuo Kawai of Mass General, who noted that his own pig kidney patient was healthier overall going into his operation than NYU’s patient. “When the heart function is bad, it’s really difficult to do a kidney transplant.”


More than 100,000 people are on the U.S. transplant waiting list, most who need a kidney, and thousands die waiting. In hopes of filling the shortage of donated organs, several biotech companies are genetically modifying pigs so their organs are more humanlike, less likely to be destroyed by people’s immune system.

NYU and other research teams have temporarily transplanted pig kidneys and hearts into brain-dead bodies, with promising results. Then the University of Maryland transplanted pig hearts into two men who were out of other options, and both died within months.

Mass General’s pig kidney transplant last month raised new hopes. Kawai said Richard “Rick” Slayman experienced an early rejection scare but bounced back enough to go home earlier this month and still is faring well five weeks post-transplant. A recent biopsy showed no further problems.


Pisano is the first woman to receive a pig organ — and unlike with prior xenotransplant experiments, both her heart and kidneys had failed. She went into cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated before the experimental surgeries. She’d gotten too weak to even play with her grandchildren. “I was miserable,” the Cookstown, New Jersey, woman said.

A failed heart made her ineligible for a traditional kidney transplant. But while on dialysis, she didn’t qualify for a heart pump, called a left ventricular assist device or LVAD, either.

“It’s like being in a maze and you can’t find a way out,” Montgomery explained — until the surgeons decided to pair a heart pump with a pig kidney.


With emergency permission from the Food and Drug Administration, Montgomery chose an organ from a pig genetically engineered by United Therapeutics Corp. so its cells don’t produce a particular sugar that’s foreign to the human body and triggers immediate organ rejection.

Plus a tweak: The donor pig’s thymus gland, which trains the immune system, was attached to the donated kidney in hopes that it would help Pisano’s body tolerate the new organ.

Surgeons implanted the LVAD to power Pisano’s heart on April 4, and transplanted the pig kidney on April 12. There’s no way to predict her long-term outcome but she’s shown no sign of organ rejection so far, Montgomery said. And in adjusting the LVAD to work with her new kidney, Moazami said doctors already have learned lessons that could help future care of heart-and-kidney patients.

Special “compassionate use” experiments teach doctors a lot but it will take rigorous studies to prove if xenotransplants really work. What happens with Pisano and Mass General’s kidney recipient will undoubtedly influence FDA’s decision to allow such trials. United Therapeutics said it hopes to begin one next year.

United States News

Associated Press

Virginia-based tech firm settles allegations over whites-only job listing

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — A northern Virginia tech company is paying $38,500 to settle claims that it discriminated by posting a job listing seeking white, U.S.-born candidates for an opening as a business analyst. The Justice Department announced Thursday that it had reached a settlement agreement with Arthur Grand Technologies, an information technology firm in […]

51 minutes ago

Associated Press

Bette Nash, who was named the world’s longest-serving flight attendant, dies at 88

NEW YORK (AP) — Bette Nash, who was once named the world’s longest-serving flight attendant, has died. She was 88. American Airlines, Nash’s employer, announced her passing on social media Saturday. The carrier noted that Nash spent nearly 70 years warmly caring for customers in the air. “Bette was a legend at American and throughout […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

He saw the horrors of Dachau. Now, this veteran warns against Holocaust denial

DUNWOODY, Ga. (AP) — A profile of Hilbert Margol, of Dunwoody, Georgia, one of a dwindling number of veterans took part in the Allies’ European war effort that led to the defeat of Nazi Germany. PFC HILBERT MARGOL BORN: Feb. 22, 1924, Jacksonville, Florida. SERVICE: Army, Battery B, 392nd Field Artillery Battalion, 42nd Infantry Division. […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Who is getting part of Melinda French Gates’ $1 billion in donations to support women and girls?

Melinda French Gates announced Tuesday that she plans to donate $1 billion over the next two years to organizations supporting women and girls around the world. French Gates will leave the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which she co-founded with her ex-husband Bill Gates, next week and receive $12.5 billion from Gates as part of […]

2 hours ago

deadly heat wave last summer...

Associated Press

After a deadly heat wave last summer, metro Phoenix is changing tactics

Fresh memories of the deadly heat wave last summer have led Arizona authorities to launch new tactics ahead of summer 2024.

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Ohio lawmakers holding special session to ensure President Biden is on 2024 ballot

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio lawmakers gathered Tuesday for a rare special session called by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine to pass legislation ensuring President Joe Biden appears on the state’s fall ballot. Legislators have done this before for Republicans as well as Democrats, but the ability of voters to speak directly through the ballot initiative […]

3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.



Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

New Jersey woman becomes second patient to receive kidney from gene-edited pig