The first genetically modified pig heart has been transplanted to a patient from the United States. Doctors say, David Bennett, 57, is doing well three days after the seven-hour experimental procedure in Baltimore. This procedure of transplanting a pig’s heart in a man is revolutionary!
Bennett’s life may have been saved by the transplant, though it is unclear how long he will live. Mr. Bennett explained the day before the surgery, “It was either die or do this transplant.”
“I know it’s a long shot,” he admitted, “but it’s my last resort.”
Mr. Bennett, who suffers from terminal heart disease, received a special dispensation from the US medical regulatory agency so his procedure could be performed. In the case of a patient in critical condition, doctors frequently rule out human transplantation.
Risks of the Surgery
According to the AFP news agency, the pig used in the transplant had been genetically modified to knock out several genes that would have caused the organ to be rejected by Mr. Bennett’s body.
The transplant represents the culmination of years of research for the medical team that performed it, and it has the potential to change lives all over the world. According to surgeon Bartley Griffith, the surgery will bring the world “one step closer to solving the organ shortage crisis.” Each day 17 Americans die waiting for a transplant, and over 100,000 people are on the waiting list.
During the surgery, Dr. Christine Lau, chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, was present.
“He’s at a higher risk because we need to use more immunosuppression, which is different from what we’d do in a human-to-human transplant. We have no idea how well the patient will do from here because it has never been done before,” she told the BBC about it.
“People die all the time while waiting for organs on the waiting list.” They’d never have to wait if we could use genetically engineered pig organs; they’d be able to get an organ whenever they needed it.
“Plus, we wouldn’t have to fly across the country at night to recover organs for transplantation,” she added.
Animal organs for so-called xenotransplantation have long been considered to meet demand, and pig heart valves are already widely used.
In October 2021, New York surgeons announced that they had successfully transplanted a pig’s kidney into an adult human. The operation was, at the time, the most advanced experiment in the field. However, on that occasion, the recipient was brain dead, and there was no hope of recovery.
A Ray of Hope amidst Enormous Dangers
This watershed moment raises the possibility of finding a solution to the chronic shortage of human organ donors. However, there is still much work to be done to determine whether or not giving people animal organs is the way to go. A pig’s heart is similar to a human’s heart in anatomy, but they are not identical, as you might expect. When compared to transplanting a human heart, it’s not ideal. However, they can be plugged in and made to work.
The more severe problem is organ rejection. These pigs have been bred to be devoid of genes that cause rejection, and they are cloned and raised until their organs are large enough to be harvested for transplantation, with specific genes “knocked out.”
It’s too early to tell how Mr. Bennett’s pig heart will turn out. His doctors made it clear that the surgery was a risky proposition. The stakes are high, but so are the rewards.
Mr. Bennett, on the other hand, is hoping that his transplant will allow him to live everyday life. Before the surgery, he had been bedridden for six weeks and kept alive by a machine due to terminal heart disease.
He said last week, “I look forward to getting out of bed after I recover.”
Mr. Bennett was said to be breathing on his own on Monday while closely monitored. But it’s unclear what will happen next. Mr. Griffith stated that they were proceeding cautiously and closely monitoring Mr. Bennett. At the same time, his son David Bennett Jr told the Associated Press that the family was “in the unknown at this time.”
“He realizes the magnitude of what was done, and he understands the importance of it,” he added.
Griffith said, “We’ve never done this in a human and I think this is a better alternative to continuing his therapy.” “However, I don’t know whether he will survive a day, week, month, or a year.”
This procedure is revolutionary in the medical field. Doctors, however, are still scratching their heads as to what will happen next.
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