US surgeons transplant pig heart into human patient

US doctors have transplanted a pig’s heart into a patient in a final attempt to save his life – in a medical first – and the Maryland hospital where the operation took place says he is doing well three days after the highly experimental surgery. Used to be.

While it is too early to know whether the operation will actually work, it is a step in the decades-long quest to one day use animal organs for life-saving transplants.

Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center say the transplant has shown that the heart of a genetically modified animal can function in the human body without immediate rejection.

The patient, David Bennett, 57, knew there was no guarantee the experiment would work, but he was dying, unfit for a human heart transplant and had no other choice, his son told the Associated Press. told.

“It was either die or transplant it. I want to live I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice,” Mr Bennett said the day before the surgery, according to a statement provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

There is an acute shortage of donated human organs for transplantation, forcing scientists to figure out how to use animal organs instead.

Last year, just over 3,800 heart transplants took place in the US, a record number, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, which oversees the country’s transplant system.

“If it works, there will be an endless supply of these organs for afflicted patients,” said Dr. Muhammad Mohiuddin, scientific director of the university’s animal-to-human transplant program.

But prior attempts at such transplantation – or xenotransplantation – have failed, mainly because the patients’ bodies rapidly rejected the animal organ.

In 1984, a baboon heart was transplanted into the body of a dying infant, Baby Fay, but she lived only 21 more days

In 1984, a dying infant, Baby Fay, lived 21 days with a baboon heart. The difference this time is that the Maryland surgeons used the heart of a pig that had undergone gene-editing to remove a sugar in its cells that was responsible for rejection of the organ.

“I think you can characterize this as a watershed event,” UNOS chief medical officer Dr. David Klaasen said of the Maryland transplant.

Still, Dr. Klaasen cautioned that this was only the first possible step in finding out whether, this time, xenotransplantation might eventually work.

The Food and Drug Administration, which oversees xenotransplantation experiments, has given the surgery what is called a “compassionate use” emergency authorization, which is available when a patient with a life-threatening condition has no other option.

Last year, just over 3,800 heart transplants took place in the US, a record number, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, which oversees the country's transplant system.
Last year, just over 3,800 heart transplants took place in the US, a record number, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, which oversees the country’s transplant system.

Just last September, researchers in New York conducted an experiment that suggested this type of pig could hold promise for animal-to-human transplants. Doctors temporarily attached a pig kidney to a dead human body and watched it begin to function.

Robert Montgomery, who led that experiment at NYU Langone Health, said the Maryland transplant takes their experiment to the next level.

“This is truly a remarkable success,” he said in a statement. “As a heart transplant recipient myself with a genetic heart disorder, I am thrilled by this news and the hope it gives to my family and other patients who will eventually survive this breakthrough.”

The surgery, which took place last Friday at a Baltimore hospital, took seven hours.

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