The heart of a bioengineered pig was implanted into a 57-year-old male suffering from heart disease. This is a revolutionary medical procedure that provides hope to individuals awaiting organ transplants.
A U.S. man with terminal heart disease was implanted with a genetically modified pig heart in a first-of-its-kind surgery, and three days later the patient is doing well, his doctors reported https://t.co/wIxCCPdHnq pic.twitter.com/co34s51r1q
— Reuters (@Reuters) January 11, 2022
David Bennett, the recipient, got the heart on Friday at the University of Maryland Medical Center. According to reports, the treatment was deemed momentous and a “debut of its type” by the institution.
Shortage of Organ Donors
The procedure was performed after the FDA granted permission for the transplant via its extended access provision. Bennett had been deemed unfit for human heart surgery, owing to his poor condition, thereby leaving the pig transplant as his sole option, per the Medical Center.
It was either death or this operation. According to the announcement, Bennett remarked the day before the procedure that he realized it’s a shot in the dark; however, it was his final option.
He also said he was looking forward to stepping out of bed after he recovered.
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT – In a world first, a terminally ill man has received a heart transplant from a genetically modified pig. The patient is doing well three days after the surgery, which was performed by a team at the University of Maryland Medicine https://t.co/7Xhkk7h3Bo pic.twitter.com/wl6Wa7RFjQ
— Reuters (@Reuters) January 11, 2022
This was a groundbreaking procedure that gets us one inch closer to resolving the organ scarcity dilemma. According to transplant surgeon Bartley P. Griffith, there just aren’t enough donors with human hearts available to match the large list of potential patients.
They are treading gingerly, but they are certain this first-in-the-world operation will provide patients with a meaningful choice soon.
As of Monday, the United Network for Organ Sharing reported over 106,000 patients were on organ replacement waiting lists.
Last year, approximately 40,000 patients received organ transplants, with approximately 3,800 of them receiving heart transplants.
According to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, 17 people on waiting lists die every day as a result of organ scarcity.
Scientists believe transplanting an organ from one mammal into another will reduce organ scarcity and lengthen the lives of individuals on waiting lists.
Previously, at NYU Langone Health, a kidney generated in a genetically engineered pig was implanted into a braindead individual.
The Pig Was Bred Solely for This Purpose
Revivicor, a gene therapy firm based in Blacksburg, grew the pig with the heart transplant specifically for this purpose.
Per the New York Times, the pig underwent ten genetic alterations to make its heart suitable for human consumption.
Some of the changes are intended to prevent the heart from developing after transplantation and to render the organ more resistant to the body’s immune system.
On Friday, the medical team extracted the pig’s heart and placed it in a machine that would keep it safe until the procedure.
The surgical team also used a novel medicine developed by Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals to prevent the human body from rejecting the pig’s heart, according to the medical school.
Bennett is being monitored closely in the hospital. According to the New York Times, he is still hooked up to the heart-lung bypass equipment that kept him alive before the transplant; however, the heart transplant is working.
Bennet will be removed from the bypass machine on Tuesday, according to doctors.
David Klassen, the senior medical officer of the United Network for Organ Sharing, told the New York Times this was a defining moment. He feels doors are opening that will lead to big improvements in how we address organ failure.