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Jan 11, 2022
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Pig heart transplanted into humans for the first time in the USA

The historic operation was performed at the University of Maryland Medical Center. For 57-year-old local resident David Bennett with terminal heart disease, surgeons successfully transplanted a genetically modified pig heart. After a few days, he is doing well.

David Bennett was deemed unsuitable for traditional heart transplant or artificial heart pump implantation. “Either die or have this transplant. I want to live. I know this is a shot in the dark, but this is my last choice. I look forward to getting out of bed after I recover, ”the man said the day before the operation. He has been bedridden for the past few months.

Photo from the UMSOM website

This transplant demonstrated for the first time that a genetically modified animal heart can function like a human without being immediately rejected by the body. Over the next days and weeks, the patient will be monitored by doctors. They will assess his condition and prevent possible complications. Based on the results of the observation, it will be found out whether such a transplant has advantages for life.

It’s too early to talk about success, the 57-year-old recipient is still at AIC (heart-lung machine – ed.), But the heart at least keeps pressure and the required heart rate, so the transplantologists hope to turn off the AIC today.

The donor pig has been removed three genes that are responsible for the rejection of pig organs by the human immune system. And one gene was deleted to prevent overgrowth of pig heart tissue. Also added were six human genes responsible for immune susceptibility.

“We do not have enough donor human hearts. We proceed with caution and believe that this world’s first surgery will provide patients with important new opportunities in the future, ”said surgeon Bartley Griffith in a statement.

“This is a breakthrough in organ transplantation and the ultimate achievement of years of research and testing by our multidisciplinary team led by Dr. Griffith and Dr. Mohiuddin. This is the beginning of a new era in organ transplant medicine. I am proud of our team’s incredible achievement, ”said Daniel Maloof, Professor of Surgery and Transplant Program Director.


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