One in 20 people will need some kind of tissue transplant during their life. Doctors are getting help from pigs to heal everything from hernias to wounds.
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Melissa Medley: A few years ago moves like these didn't come easily. Chris Nelson: I was having a lot of pain even standing for an extended periods of time. Melissa Medley: Chris Nelson had a hernia in his groin. The muscle had torn. Instead of using donor tissue, doctors repaired it with material made from the small intestines of pigs. Chris Nelson: It did seem almost like weird science or something like that. Dr. Samer Mattar: Pigs have been a very popular or common animal to use. Believe it or not, their genetic makeup is pretty close to humans. Melissa Medley: When placed on the torn tissue, the body uses the pig part as a scaffold or guide to remodel and repair itself. Over time, the pig's tissue is replaced by human tissue, providing a permanent repair. Dr. Samer Mattar: Over time, it's very hard to distinguish where the graft or the pig's tissues were, versus the patient's. Melissa Medley: Besides hernias, the pig tissue can be used in ulcer repair, wound care, plastic surgery and weight loss surgery. Doctors say, compared to a human donor, the pig tissue has less risk of causing an allergic reaction. Chris Nelson: No pain whatsoever, it's great. Melissa Medley: Chris is back at his game. Chris Nelson: Well, I would say my game is getting better, but I wouldn't probably be honest at that point. Melissa Medley: But he is satisfied with simply feeling better. I am Melissa Medley reporting.