Successful "Grown" Kidneys in Laboratory Rats
The BBC is reporting the success of "growing" laboratory kidneys and implanting them in living animals, with the result of creating urine. This is huge news, and shows progress in one very important area: transplant organs.
Organ transplants remain a very complicated procedure, with the need of finding donors, matching them to needy recipients, and doctors having the difficulty having to prioritize need for the very limited supply of donor organs. Being able to "grow" organs from stem cells has been a holy grail for transplant doctors, because it would mean being able to grow a replacement organ from a patient's own stem cells that works properly without worrying about rejection. Because even if there is a great match for donation, there is a limit on how long the organ will remain viable with anti-rejection drugs.
Many of my friends and family know that my wife is a living donor, having donated a kidney to her brother when we were married for 6 months. It was an ordeal for all of us, but her brother is alive and well with a working kidney. But to think that he could have his own kidney, fully functioning, no anti-rejection pills, that's something that I think would be fabulous.
The donation process was an amazing process, bringing the whole family closer together as we looked for ways to help my brother in law and my wife through the ordeal. I wouldn't want to take that process of closeness, bonding, and connection away from anyone. But I can't wait until those who need kidneys, hearts, lungs, livers, etc. will no longer need to wait for years on a waiting list, or search through family members for close matches, and can have the life-saving transplant in a matter of months. This is an exciting time, and it makes me hopeful for the future!