A 57-year-old man has received the first pig-to-human heart transplant in Maryland, US.
The man identified as David Bennett got a heart transplant from a genetically-modified pig.
According to reports obtained from the BBC, this world-class move was carried out to save Bennett’s life.
Although the patient is still under observation, doctors in Baltimore say he is doing well.
Bennett’s surgery was completed after an experimental seven-hour procedure.
The Pig to Human surgery was carried out at the University of Maryland Medical Center in the USA.
Prior to the surgery, Bennett said, “It was either die or do this transplant”.
“I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice,” he added.
The surgery was allowed to take place on the ground that Bennett would have lost his life.
The United States medical regulator gave the man the go-ahead to undergo the surgery.
Bennett was initially deemed ineligible for a human transplant. This decision was due to his very poor health.
However, the success of this surgery marks a breakthrough for the surgeons. This marks another procedure that could affect lives around the world.
One of the surgeons, Bartley Griffith said the transplant would resolve the health crisis.
In Griffith’s words, this would bring the world “one step closer to solving the organ shortage crisis”.
According to data, 17 people a day in the US die waiting for a transplant. In another update over 100,000 are reportedly on the waiting list.
The animal to human heart transplant has long been considered to meet the high demands. The use of pig heart valves is already common.
Another Pig-to-human transplant
In October 2021, some surgeons in New York said they had successfully transplanted a pig’s kidney into a person.
This was the most advanced experiment in the medical field so far.
The procedure, however, left the patient brain dead with no hope of recovery.
Meanwhile, Bennett has high hopes of living a normal life after this procedure.
He was bedridden for weeks and attached to a machine before the surgery.
“I look forward to getting out of bed after I recover,” he said last week.
After the surgery, he was reported to be breathing on his own. He is still being closely monitored to access what might happen next.
AFP news agency reports that the pig used in the transplant had been genetically modified.
The modification was to wipe out any gene that would have disrupted the procedure.
The observation stage was described by Bennett’s son David as keeping the family “in the unknown”.
He added: “He realises the magnitude of what was done.
“And he really realises the importance of it.”
Griffith said, “We’ve never done this in a human.
“I like to think that we have given him a better option than what continuing his therapy would have been.
“But whether [he will live for] a day, week, month, year, I don’t know.”