US Man Gets Pig’s Heart In Groundbreaking Replacement Surgery

| Updated: January 11, 2022 4:59 pm

In what is the world’s first inter-species cardiac transplant, a 57-year-old American citizen has received a heart from a genetically modified pig, a procedure that offers hope to hundreds of thousands of patients with sick organs.

The transplant, which required an eight-hour surgery procedure, took place in Baltimore on Friday. The patient, David Bennett Sr. of Maryland, was doing well on Monday, according to physicians at the University of Maryland Medical Centre.

Dr. Bartley Griffith, director of the cardiac transplant programme at the medical centre, performed the surgery.

“It’s working and it looks normal. We are thrilled, but we don’t know what tomorrow will bring us. This has never been done before,” said Dr Griffith. 

In 2021, over 41,354 Americans received a transplanted organ, more than half of them receiving kidneys, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, a non-profit that coordinates the nation’s organ procurement efforts.

Acute shortage of organs is a global issue, and about a dozen people on the lists die each day due to the lack of one. Some 3,817 Americans received human donor hearts last year as replacements, more than ever before, but the potential demand is still higher.

Scientists have been working to develop pigs whose organs would not be rejected by the human body. Research has been accelerated in the past decade by new gene editing and cloning technologies. 

The heart transplant comes just months after surgeons in New York successfully attached the kidney of a genetically engineered pig to a brain-dead patient. Researchers hope procedures like this will usher in a new era in medicine.

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