Maryland Man Becomes First To Ever Receive Genetically Modified Pig Heart

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One 57-years-old man from Maryland is the first human being to receive a heart transplant from a pig. The surgery happened at the University of Maryland Medical Center, and the man who got the pig’s heart was David Bennett Sr.

The surgery took 8 hours, and now Bennett is in good condition, but he is the first man who received a genetically modified heart from a pig, and doctors closely monitor his condition.


The New York Times reported:

A 57-year-old man with life-threatening heart disease has received a heart from a genetically modified pig, a groundbreaking procedure that offers hope to hundreds of thousands of patients with failing organs.

It is the first successful transplant of a pig’s heart into a human being. The eight-hour operation took place in Baltimore on Friday, and the patient, David Bennett Sr. of Maryland, was doing well on Monday, according to surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

“It creates the pulse, it creates the pressure, it is his heart,” said Dr. Bartley Griffith, the director of the cardiac transplant program at the medical center, who performed the operation.

“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.”

Scientists have worked feverishly to develop pigs whose organs would not be rejected by the human body, research 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 person.

The Daily Mail covered this story too:

In a medical first, doctors transplanted a pig heart into a patient in a last-ditch effort to save his life and three days later, David Bennett, 57, is said to be recovering and doing well after the nine-hour procedure.

While it´s too soon to know if the operation really will work, it marks a step in the decades-long quest to one day use animal organs for life-saving transplants.

Bennett is breathing on his own without a ventilator, but is still using a Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machine that helps pump blood throughout his body. Doctors hope to wean him off the device slowly.

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

And this medical first could one day help solve the chronic shortage of organ donations.

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