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New Jersey woman receives groundbreaking pig kidney transplant with mechanical heart pump

New Jersey grandmother receives groundbreaking pig kidney transplant
New Jersey grandmother receives groundbreaking pig kidney transplant 02:05

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A New Jersey woman has received a first-of-its-kind transplant using a modified pig kidney along with a heart pump. She says she's grateful for her second chance at life.


At age 54, Lisa Pisano's heart and kidneys were failing.

"I couldn't go up the stairs. I couldn't drive. I couldn't play with my grandkids. So when this opportunity came to me, I said, 'I'm taking it,'" Pisano said.

"When we admitted her to the hospital, she had two cardiac arrests so that's how close she was to death," Dr. Robert Montgomery from NYU Langone Transplant Institute said.

With FDA permission, Montgomery and his team decided the only way to save her life was with a first-ever approach: giving her both a mechanical heart pump and a kidney transplant from a pig.

The human immune system rejects organs from animals. Montgomery and his team used a pig kidney with one gene altered to make it more compatible. It worked right away.


So you release the clamps, and Lisa's blood goes into the kidney, and it suddenly turns this beautiful pink color: a healthy organ," Montgomery said. "This isn't just about keeping somebody alive, it's restoring them to their lives."

"I feel great today compared to other days," Pisano said.

As she recovers from surgery, Pisano dreams of playing with her two young grandchildren for the first time in years.

"Running around in the backyard, my grandson's getting into anything and everything he can get into. You know, trying to deal with both, and it's a wonderful thing," Pisano said.

A man in Massachusetts was the first person to receive a kidney transplant from a pig in March. He is said to be doing well.

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