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22 Mar 2012
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Stem Cells boost for Kidney Transplant

"I knew I would probably need another kidney at some point. The opportunity to have a transplant that would last for the rest of my life and to avoid all of those drugs was very appealing”, says 47 year old mother and actress, Lindsay Porter.

She was referring to the path breaking kidney transplant that did not require a lifetime of imuno suppressant drugs.

Ideally in most kidney transplants, the donor and recipient have to share a similar blood group, and be HLA (Human Leucocyte Antigen) compatible. While this is not always possible, the recipient has to take a lifetime of immunosuppressant drugs. These drugs enable the body to not fight the new organ as foreign. Nevertheless, they cause plenty of harm to the body’s natural workings.

A new study reveals that kidney transplants can be done without the use of immunosuppressant drugs. By infusing the stem cells of the donor along with the transplant, the body will accept the new organ, thanks to the stem cells that would have integrated with the recipient’s body. How the transplant was done:

  • The recipient's body was prepared using radiotherapy and chemotherapy to suppress their own immune system.
  • Transplant came from a live donor, who also underwent a procedure to draw stem cells from his bone marrow.
  • Then the transplant went ahead, with the stem cells put into the recipient’s body a couple of days later.

“It's almost surreal when I think about it because I feel so healthy and normal”, comments Lindsay Porter. This technique holds a lot of promise to improve the lives of those receiving other organs as well.

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