China hospital successfully transplants pig's liver to monkey

XI'AN, China - Xijing Hospital in Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi province, said on Thursday that it made a successful liver transplant from a pig to a monkey.

Dou Kefeng, a professor at the hospital and the leading doctor for the surgery, said that the Tibetan macaque that received the liver from a transgenic pig is alive after the operation, which was on May 28, and is in stable condition.

This is a new medical record as the previous animal involved in a similar surgery in the United States was only alive for nine days.

On May 7, doctors at the Chinese hospital made the first transplant between a Tibetan macaque and a transgenic pig, but the monkey died two days after the operation.

Xijing Hospital started the clinical research project four years ago due to a shortage of domestic and international liver donors for transplants.

During the operation on May 28, doctors first removed the spleen from the monkey and then put part of the pig's liver in the monkey's abdominal area.

"Three hours after the transplantation, the monkey could spontaneously breath and its vital signs were stable," Dou said.

Dou said that the organs from genetically altered pigs are preferred alternatives to human organs and that the success of this surgery laid a theoretical and experimental basis for the clinical application of such transplants, which could provide a solution to the shortage of human organs for transplants.

The hospital, which began performing liver transplants in 1997, is a leader in the field in China and has performed more than 300 successful organ transplants, Dou said.

Experts said that the success of this experimental operation means that Chinese doctors achieved a breakthrough in the field of major organ transplant surgeries.

However, there's still a long way to go before similar experiences can be applied to human transplants, they added.