U.S Surgeons Save Dying Man With Pig Heart – The Whistler Nigeria

Agency Report

Surgeons at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have successfully transplanted a genetically modified pig heart into a 57-year-old man in a last attempt to save his life.

According to Associated Press, the hospital confirmed on Monday that he is doing well three days after the highly experimental surgery, although it is still too soon to know to know if the operation will actually work.

The patient, David Bennett, agreed to the surgery knowing that there was no guarantee it would work, but seeing as he was dying and ineligible for a human heart transplant, had no other option.

“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”, Bennett said a day before his surgery.

The surgery marks a step in the right direction for the medical field as doctors at the hospital said the surgery is proof that a heart from a genetically modified animal can function in the human body without immediate rejection.

Medical practitioners have tried for many years to save human lives using animal organs but have always come up short.

Most notably was in 1984 when Stephanie Fae Beauclair, known widely as Baby Fae, received a grafted baboon heart to help with her condition– hypoplastic left heart syndrome– a congenital disorder which left her body unable to circulate blood properly.

She survived for 21 days before her body eventually rejected the heart.

The difference with this procedure is that the surgeons used a heart from a pig that had undergone gene-editing to remove a sugar in its cells that’s responsible for that hyper-fast organ rejection.

Several biotech companies are developing pig organs for human transplant; the one used for Friday’s operation came from Revivicor, a subsidiary of United Therapeutics.

“If this works, there will be an endless supply of these organs for patients who are suffering,” said Dr. Muhammad Mohiuddin, scientific director of the Maryland university’s animal-to-human transplant program.

The Food and Drug Administration, which oversees such experiments, allowed the surgery under what’s called a “compassionate use” emergency authorization, available when a patient with a life-threatening condition has no other options.

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