A new study has the potential to be what the Los Angeles Times calls a "game-changer" in organ transplants. The idea seems simple enough: Give organ recipients a second transplant—of stem cells from the donor. This not only makes it more likely their body won't reject the organ, it keeps them off a lifetime regimen of nasty anti-rejection drugs. In the study, five of eight people who received kidneys that weren't perfect matches were able to be free and clear of such drugs within a year.
"It's almost surreal when I think about it because I feel so healthy and normal," says one of the recipients, a 47-year-old Chicago woman, according to the BBC. If the results are borne out in larger studies, the ramifications could be huge: The procedure could make it easier for people on waiting lists to receive organs, because ones previously seen as incompatible could be used. Nature cautions that it might be premature to declare the study a success just yet: The patients will need to be watched longer.