Medical breakthrough! US surgeons successfully transplant pig heart into human patient

Medical breakthrough! US surgeons successfully transplant pig heart into human patient

New Delhi: In what is dubbed as a ‘first-of-its-kind surgery’, the US surgeons have performed a successful transplant of a ‘porcine’ heart into an adult human with end-stage heart disease.

The 57-year-old Maryland resident with terminal heart disease received a successful transplant of a genetically-modified pig heart and is said to be still doing well three days later.

“It was the only currently available option for the patient,” the University of Maryland Medicine said on Monday (January 10, 2022) after performing the historic surgery.

“This organ transplant demonstrated for the first time that a genetically-modified animal heart can function like a human heart without immediate rejection by the body,” the University said in a statement.

The patient, David Bennett, is currently being monitored over the next days and weeks to determine whether the transplant provides lifesaving benefits.

He, the University said, had been deemed ineligible for a conventional heart transplant at UMMC as well as at several other leading transplant centres that reviewed his medical records.

“It was either die or do this transplant. I want to live. I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice,” Bennett, who had been hospitalized and bedridden for the past few months, said before the surgery.

Bartley P Griffith, MD, who surgically transplanted the pig heart, said that this was a breakthrough surgery and brings us one step closer to solving the organ shortage crisis.

“We are proceeding cautiously, but we are also optimistic that this first-in-the-world surgery will provide an important new option for patients in the future,” Griffith said.

It is noteworthy that the US Food and Drug Administration had granted emergency authorization for the surgery on New Year’s Eve through its expanded access (compassionate use) provision.

It is used when an experimental medical product, in this case, the genetically-modified pig’s heart, is the only option available for a patient faced with a serious or life-threatening medical condition.

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