The U.S. team of surgeons has successfully transplanted the world’s first genetically modified pig heart into a human, the University of Maryland Medical School said Monday (10).
Friday’s surgery and for the first time proved that the heart of an animal can continue to beat in a human without being immediately rejected, he explained in a statement.
A patient named David Bennett was unable to obtain a human heart.
The 57-year-old Maryland resident is under medical observation to examine the function of her new organ.
“Either it dies or I have to have this transplant. I want to live. I know it’s a long shot, but it’s my last option,” Bennett announced the day before surgery.
Bennett, who has been bedridden for the past few months, added: “I’m looking forward to getting out of bed as soon as I’ve recovered.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave emergency approval to surgery on New Year’s Eve, making it a last resort for a patient who is not eligible for routine transplant surgery.
“It’s a revolutionary operation and a step closer to resolving the organ shortage crisis,” said Bartley Griffith, who changed the pig’s heart.
“We proceed with caution, but we are confident that this world’s first surgery will be an important new option for patients in the future,” he added.
David Bennett was preceded in surgery by surgeon Bartley B. at the Maryland Medical Center at the University of Baltimore. Posed with Griffith.
The donor pig belonged to a herd that underwent a genetic modification process to remove the gene that triggers a strong immune system in a human and produces sugar that is rejected by the organ.
The change was made by the biotechnology company Revivicor, which in October provided a pig used for kidney transplant surgery to a brain-dead patient in New York.
The donated organ was in a machine to protect it before surgery, and the team used a new drug with other conventional ingredients to suppress the immune system and prevent organ rejection.
It is a test compound prepared by Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals.
According to official figures, about 110,000 Americans are currently waiting for an organ transplant, and more than 6,000 patients die each year before an organ transplant.
To meet the need, physicians have long been interested in so-called xenotransplantation, or cross-organ donation, with 17th-century experiments.
Early research focused on the extraction of primary elements. For example, in 1984 a baboon’s heart was transplanted to a newborn baby called “Baby Fay”, but it only survived for 20 days.
Today, pig heart valves are widely used in humans, and pig skin is implanted in people suffering from burns.
Pigs are excellent donors because of their size, rapid growth, large litter and readily available for food and breeding.
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