United States: patient has pig heart transplant, a world first

It’s a world first, American surgeons successfully transplanted the heart of a genetically modified pig into a human patient. The patient, David Bennett, is a 57-year-old American who had been declared ineligible to receive a human transplant. This animal organ transplant was therefore the last hope to save this patient. end-stage heart disease. “It was either death or this transplant. I want to live. I know it’s pretty hit and miss, but it was my last option, ”said David Bennett, a day before his operation.

The operation was carried out in Baltimore this Friday, January 7 by American surgeons from the medical school of the University of Maryland. The university congratulated itself on the success of this operation, which demonstrates that an animal heart can continue to function inside a human without immediate rejection, explained the institution in a press release published on Monday, January 10.

A genetically modified pig heart

The pig from which the heart that was transplanted to the American patient came was genetically modified in order to no longer produce a type of sugar normally present in all pig cells which is incompatible with the human body. This genetic manipulation therefore allows the patient’s body not to immediately reject the organ. This genetic modification was carried out by the American company Revivicor, which in October 2021 supplied a pig kidney that surgeons had successfully connected to the blood vessels of a brain-dead patient in New York.

Hope for the fight against organ shortage

This successful transplantation of an animal organ into a human patient is hope for the fight against organ shortage. “This is a major surgical breakthrough and one that brings us one step closer to a solution to the organ shortage,” said Bartley Griffith, the surgeon who performed the transplant. If for the moment the operation is successful, the surgeon remains cautious “We are proceeding with caution, but are also optimistic that this world first will provide an essential new option for patients in the future”.

Organ shortage claimed the lives of 700 people who were on the transplant waiting list of organs in 2019 in France according to the collective Registry +.

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