Two weeks ago, the surgical team that performed the world’s first pig kidney transplant got their first-ever chance to attempt a similar surgery on a person who actually wanted to donate her own organ. In this case, the woman was a death row inmate in Florida who agreed to have the pig kidney removed before her execution.
The company that provided the kidney, Fisher & Paykel, said in a statement on March 10 that the 12-hour transplant went well. Fisher & Paykel said the woman, 53, had consented to the surgery and the donation of the kidney. According to the Florida Department of Corrections, the inmate was put to death in the Florida State Prison in Starke on March 13. Florida law typically prohibits prisoners from donating their organs.
Fisher & Paykel CEO Bruce Perry said in a statement that the company was proud to have helped facilitate the donation. “This medical milestone cannot be overstated. Not only is this the first animal-to-human organ transplant, but with continued hard work from our team of animal surgeons, animal surgeons were able to perform this procedure on a live human,” he said.
A Florida Department of Corrections spokesman told Time that the inmate’s health has improved considerably since she donated her kidney. “Her family says she’s had no complications since the transplant or from the execution. She’s incredibly strong. Doctors haven’t even checked her vitals since the execution,” the spokesman said.
Despite being put to death by lethal injection, this is not the first time that the inmate has donated her kidney. According to FDP, she donated the organ to a donor in 2006 before her sentence was commuted.
Following the successful pig kidney transplant, the company said it would begin facilitating pig-to-human transplants in the near future.