The macaque is now in stable condition, according to Dou Kefeng who heads the xenotransplantation program. He is also a professor at Xijing Hospital affiliated to the Fourth Military Medical University, located in Xi'an City, Shaanxi Province.
"It's been about a day since yesterday's surgery and all the macaque's organs are functioning well. Its blood circulation is also all right. The macaque is in stable condition and the surgery turns out successful," said Dou.
The xenotransplantation, or transplantation between two species, was conducted on Tuesday and it took more than 10 hours before medical experts completed the surgery for the organ recipient -- a Tibetan macaque, which has physiological, biochemical, immune and anatomical characteristics that are quite similar to those of humans.
Hyperacute rejection and blood coagulation system disorder of the recipient are the two biggest problems to overcome for the success of xenotransplantation, Dou explained.
He also said that the transgenic pig's natural antigen genes, which will lead to hyperacute rejection reaction between the macaque blood and the pig liver, have been removed.
He specified that in the surgery, the macaque's liver was kept but its spleen was cut out and replaced with the pig liver. Such operation could avoid hyperacute rejection in the macaque and also keep its blood coagulation system stable.
"Through this surgery, we meant to see how to protect organs with natural antigen genes eliminated and how to reduce the severity of rejection reaction and finally make transplantation successful," Dou said.
"The surgery assures us that the issue of hyperacute rejection can be solved. Meanwhile, we have many sorts of medicines against rejection reaction and they work well. So I think the surgery has laid important theoretical and practical foundation for clinical applications of xenotransplantation in the future," Dou added.
Organs from transgenic pigs are preferred alternatives of human organs, according to Prof. Dou. Medical experts in several countries have ever conducted xenotransplantation but the animals receiving transplanted organs usually lived a very short time. The success of this surgery could possibly provide a solution to the severe shortage of human organs for transplantation surgeries, Prof. Dou said.
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