For the first time, a team of surgeons at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (United States) has successfully transplanted a pig heart into a 57-year-old man in a surgery they described as “historic.” The organ was genetically modified to make it compatible with the human body. “This organ transplant demonstrated for the first time that a genetically modified animal heart can function like a human heart without immediate rejection by the body,” the institution detailed in a statement on Monday. The operation, which lasted eight hours, was successfully performed last Friday at the University of Maryland Medical Center. The recipient patient is a 57-year-old man, David Bennet, with heart disease. He is now under medical surveillance and in good health.
According to the institution, a pig heart transplant “was the only option available to the patient,” since several hospitals had ruled out the possibility of a conventional transplant. “It was either dying or doing this transplant. I want to live. I know it is a shot in the dark, but it is my last option, “said the patient, according to the statement from the University of Maryland.
The United States Food and Drug Administration authorized the operation on New Year’s Eve for Bennet, who had been bedridden for months and was informed of the risks of the operation, as it was still an experimental technique. “It has been a revolutionary surgery and brings us one step closer to solving the organ shortage crisis. There are not enough human donor hearts available to meet the long list of potential recipients, ”said Bartley Griffith, doctor in charge of this surgical procedure.
About 110,000 Americans are currently waiting for an organ transplant, and more than 6,000 patients die each year before receiving one, according to official data cited by the university. A New York hospital last October managed to temporarily transplant the kidney of a genetically modified pig into a human body, another success that, like the one known this Monday, may lead in the future to the need for donating organs from a deceased to save someone else’s life.
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