Sight in Chinese man’s eye restored after pig cornea transplant

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 August, 2017, 12:44pm
UPDATED : Friday, 18 August, 2017, 12:44pm

A visually impaired man from southern China has had the sight in one eye returned to near normal after he received a cornea transplant from a pig, according to a newspaper report.

The surgery was carried out on the 27-year-old at a hospital linked to the Central South University in Changsha in Hunan province, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.

The man had a condition which caused chronic inflammation in one eye and he had difficulty in even seeing his own hands, according to the article.

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Dr Tang Renhong, the director of cornea transplantation at the hospital, said the pig’s cornea underwent treatment to make sure it was a near-perfect fit for the man’s eye.

The cornea, the transparent layer at the front of the eye, also contained no blood vessels, lessening the risk of the man’s body rejecting the transplant.

Similar cornea transplants have been carried out fewer than 10 times in hospitals in Beijing, Wuhan and Hunan provinces, but the success rate is over 90 per cent.

“The surgery is not complicated – more or less the same as a human cornea transplant,” Tang was quoted as saying.

The patient, who was not named, will remain in the hospital for extended observation.

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“A pig cornea is a temporary substitute, definitely not as good as a human’s,” Tang said.

China, however, has few cornea donors.

“Many patients will never have a chance to get a human cornea, they can only use the alternative,” Tang said.