Monkey survives liver transplant from pig in groundbreaking experiment

The monkey is the longest-surviving recipient as the scientists said the other two primates died a day and a week respectively after the experiment (Image: Asiawire)


A team of Chinese scientists have successfully transplanted organs from pigs to three monkeys in what could potentially prove to be a step forward in finding solutions to the global organ shortage.

Footage taken at the Xijin Hospital, which is run by China’s Air Force Medical University, shows the expert giving a check-up on a 10-year-old male rhesus monkey.


The primate is now the longest-surviving animal to have received a foreign liver through xenotransplantation, hospital director Li Xiaokang announced at a press conference.

Two other male macaques received a kidney and a heart. All the organs have been working perfectly inside the receivers’ bodies, according to the report.

But the eight-year-old heart recipient died after seven days, while the nine-year-old monkey with a porcine kidney lived just 24 hours following the three procedures performed on June 13.

A spokesperson for the hospital said the team used a genome-editing technique known as porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERV) knockout to perform the task.

The procedure could help humans live off organ transplants from pigs, potentially giving a solution to the current organ shortage.

Monkeys’ DNA is 94% identical to humans and so it is hoped down the line similar operations will be able to shift towards humans.

Xijing Hospital transplant surgeon Professor Dou Kefeng said: "Recent advancements in technology have allowed for genetically humanised pigs.

"Human DNA can be introduced into pigs, and porcine organs can be transplanted into humans after potentially harmful genes are knocked out.

"Porcine organs closely match human ones. The hope is to use porcine organs in humans, solving the organ shortage crisis."

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