For the first time, surgeons successfully attached a kidney grown in a pig to a human patient

The operation was successfully performed at the NYU Langone hospital in September
A view outside NYU Langone Health hospital
A view outside NYU Langone Health hospital
(Noam Galai / Getty Images)

A team of New York surgeons have successfully attached a kidney that was grown in a genetically altered pig to a human patient and found that the organ functioned normally.

The success marks a scientific breakthrough that could one day yield an enormous new supply of options for ill patients in need of organs.

Although the successful operation represents a significant milestone, surgeons and researchers say that will need to know more about the longevity of the organ and any side effects that may occur. The research has not yet been peer-reviewed.

The surgery was performed at the NYU Langone Hospital in Manhattan on a patient who had suffered brain death and was maintained on a ventilator throughout the operation, which closely mirror that of an actual kidney transplant. 

"It was better than I think we even expected. It just looked like any transplant I’ve ever done from a living donor. A lot of kidneys from deceased people don’t work right away, and take days or weeks to start. This worked immediately," said Dr. Robert Montgomery, the director of the hospital's Transplant Institute who performed the surgery in September.

Scientists and doctors have spent years attempting to grow organs in pigs that will end up being suitable for transplant into humans. Of the more than 100,000 Americans currently on transplant waiting lists, 12 die every day.