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Va. kidney patient gets first bioengineered vein

Ready-made livers and hearts are not yet a reality, but Duke University has put the world on notice: bioengineered veins are.

A first-ever operation took place Wednesday when medical professionals at Duke University Hospital implanted a bioengineered blood vessel into the arm of a 62-year-old man from Danville, Va., with end-stage kidney disease, Science Daily reported.

"It's exciting to see something you've worked on for so long become a reality," said Jeffrey H. Lawson, a vascular surgeon and biologist at Duke Medicine who helped develop the technology.

The successful implant comes after 15 years of research. In the future, they hope the technology can be successfully used for heart bypass surgeries and to clear blocked blood vessels.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has reportedly approved a trial of 20 kidney dialysis patients.

"At the end of the process, we have a non-living, immunologically silent graft that can be stored on the shelf and used in patients whenever they need it," said Laura Niklason, a former faculty member at Duke who collaborated with Dr. Lawson on the project. "Unlike other synthetic replacements … which tend to be stiff, our blood vessels mechanically match the arteries and veins they are being sewn to."

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