Wednesday, August 17, 2022
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US surgeons successfully implant pig heart in human

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The University of Maryland Medical School announced Monday that surgeons have successfully implanted a heart from a genetically engineered pig in a human patient, a first of its kind treatment.

The procedure took conducted on Friday, and it shows for the first time that an animal heart can survive in a human without being rejected, according to a statement from the medical school.

David Bennett, the patient, had been ruled ineligible for a human transplant.

The 57-year-old Maryland resident is being closely watched to see how well the new kidney functions.

“It was either die or do this transplant. I want to live. I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice,” he said a day before the surgery.

Bennett, who has been bedridden on a life support system for several months, adding, “I look forward to getting out of bed after I recover.”

On New Year’s Eve, the Food and Drug Administration gave emergency approval for the surgery as a last-ditch effort for a patient who was not a candidate for a traditional transplant.

“This was a breakthrough surgery and brings us one step closer to solving the organ shortage crisis,” said Bartley Griffith, who surgically transplanted the pig heart.

“We are proceeding cautiously, but we are also optimistic that this first-in-the-world surgery will provide an important new option for patients in the future.”

Bennett’s donor pig came from a herd that had undergone genetic editing to remove a gene that produces a specific sugar that would have normally triggered a significant immune reaction and resulted in organ rejection.

Revivicor, a biotech company that also supplied the pig used in a groundbreaking kidney transplant on a brain dead patient in New York in October, did the editing.

The scientists employed a novel medicine in conjunction with traditional anti-rejection drugs to suppress the immune system and prevent it from rejecting the organ before surgery.

Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals developed it as an experimental chemical.

According to official statistics, around 110,000 Americans are now waiting for an organ transplant, with more than 6,000 patients dying each year before receiving one.

Doctors have long been interested in xenotransplantation, or cross-species organ donation, in order to fulfill demand, with experiments dating back to the 17th century.

Early studies concentrated on collecting organs from monkeys; for example, in 1984, a baboon heart was transplanted into a newborn named “Baby Fae,” but she only lived for 20 days.

Pig heart valves are commonly utilized in humans nowadays, and pig skin is grafted on burn victims.

Pigs are suitable donors because of their size, rapid growth, and big litters, as well as the fact that they are already being reared for food.

REFERENCE/S:
‘Breakthrough surgery’: US surgeons successfully implant pig heart in human|ABS-CBN

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