Man Gets Genetically-Modified Heart of Pig in World-First Transplant

Pig heart transplant

A guy from the United States has become the world’s first person to receive a heart transplant from a genetically engineered pig.

Doctors say, David Bennett, 57, is doing well three days after the seven-hour experimental treatment in Baltimore, BBC reports. 

Mr. Bennett’s life was thought to be on the verge of being saved by the transplant, albeit it is unclear how long he will live. Mr. Bennett revealed the day before the surgery, “It was either die or do this transplant.”

“I know it’s a long shot,” he admitted, “but it’s my final resort.” The US medical authority granted a special exemption to doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center to carry out the treatment on the grounds that Mr. Bennett, who has terminal heart illness, would have perished otherwise.

He had been ruled ineligible for a human transplant, a choice that doctors frequently make when a patient is in critical condition. According to the AFP news agency, the pig used in the transplant had been genetically edited to knock off multiple genes that would have caused the organ to be rejected by Mr. Bennett’s body.

The transplant is the conclusion of years of research for the medical team who performed it, and it has the potential to impact lives all across the world.

The surgery, according to surgeon Bartley Griffith, will bring the world “one step closer to solving the organ scarcity dilemma.” In the United States, 17 individuals die every day while waiting for a transplant, with over 100,000 people on the waiting list.

During the surgery, Dr. Christine Lau, chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, was present. “He’s at a higher risk because we need to apply more immunosuppression, which is different from what we’d do in a human-to-human transplant.” “We really don’t know how well the patient does from here because it’s never been done before,” she told the BBC.

“People die all the time while waiting for organs on the waiting list.” They’d never have to wait if we could use genetically altered pig organs; they’d be able to acquire an organ whenever they wanted it.

“Plus, we wouldn’t have to fly across the nation at night to recover organs for transplantation,” she continued. Animal organs for so-called xenotransplantation have long been regarded as a way to meet demand, and pig heart valves are now widely used.

New York surgeons declared in October 2021 that they had successfully transplanted a pig’s kidney into a human. The operation was, at the time, the most sophisticated experiment in the field. In that case, however, the recipient was brain dead and there was no possibility of recovery.

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