Chinese man regains sight after pig cornea transplant

A 27-year-old man from central China’s Hubei province has regained sight after a pig cornea transplant. His visual acuity has picked up to 0.3 after the surgery, but it still needs observation in case there is rejection.

The man, Zhang Hua, was almost blind in his right eye before the surgery because of necrotic stromal keratitis. After discussions, the Third Xiangya Hospital of Central South University decided to carry out a pig cornea transplant on him.

According to Tang Renhong, director of the hospital’s cornea transplant center, pig cornea was the only choice for Zhang since cornea donations are in short supply in the country.

“The surgery was not carried out by merely transplanting a pig cornea on the patient,” said a doctor of the hospital surnamed Cao. He explained that they also transplanted a specifically processed structure on Zhang for a new corneal tissue to form.

Tang noted that it was not the first time the hospital carried out the surgery, adding that the process is similar to human cornea transplant.

According to him, about 90 per cent of surgeries have been successful. However, rejection might happen after transplant, and so anti-rejection measures must be taken.

Tang disclosed that pig corneas match those of humans the most amongst all animals, but they still need thorough checks and verifications before use.

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