BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — For the first time, genetically modified pig kidneys showed promising results when transplanted into a human, and it happened right here in Birmingham at UAB Hospital.

It’s part of a study to help find solutions to the kidney organ shortage. According to UAB, the kidney organ waiting list in the U.S. has about 80,000 to 100,000 people on it at any given time. Doctors said this study could help those patients have more options.

The study was conducted in February here at UAB Hospital. Doctors were able to take a genetically mortified pig kidney and transplant it into a brain-dead human. It’s a procedure called xenotransplantation. That’s when you take an animal organ or animal product and transplant it into a human.

Over the course of the seven-day study, doctors said the pig kidney showed normal, life-sustaining kidney function. UAB transplant surgeon Dr. Jayme Locke said she’s encouraged by the findings.

“What was remarkable was that not only did these kidneys produce urine, they did something really, really important, and that is that they cleared creatinine,” Locke said. “So if you’re kidneys cannot clear things, you cannot survive. It was really an important first step for us to be able to show this, as we are excitedly looking to move this into the clinics into living persons.”

Locke said this study puts them one step closer to potentially curing end-stage kidney disease and helps address the kidney organ shortage.

“We know that kidney failure has introduced health disparities, and we really believe that xenotransplantation is a real novel solution to the organ shortage crisis that is quite lethal,” Locke said. “And we think can really help provide health equity to the people of Alabama that so desperately need access to organs.”

UAB is now working to get FDA approval for a phase one clinical trial. That means it would try the pig kidney transplant in a small group of living people. Locke said the overall goal is to help prevent tens of thousands of deaths each year.