According to doctors, it is the first time in the world that a pig kidney has been successfully used as a replacement organ in a human being. The man, who suffers from life-threatening kidney disease, had the genetically modified organ implanted on Saturday, said the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. The operation lasted four hours, the patient is recovering well and will probably be discharged soon.

The transplant could bring hope to tens of thousands of people who rely on donor organs. The so-called xenotransplantation has been researched since the 1980s. Pigs are particularly suitable as donors because their metabolism is similar to that of humans.

Scientists have been trying for some time to make pig organs usable for humans. In order for this to be possible, the genetic makeup of the donor animals must, among other things, be changed. Without genetic adaptation, transmission to humans would result in an immediate, severe rejection reaction.

Most recently, two seriously ill patients at the University Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, had pig hearts implanted as replacement organs in recent years. However, both patients had died several weeks after surgery. Similar interventions are also planned in Germany in the foreseeable future.