Man becomes first recipient of heart transplant from pig

Man becomes first recipient of heart transplant from pig

Amarachi Okeh<

In a groundbreaking procedure, a 57-year-old American man has become the first to receive a heart from a genetically modified pig.

The patient is said to be doing well according to the surgeons who performed the surgery.

The operation was performed by surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Centre in Baltimore and took eight hours.

According to a report by the New York Times, the patient, David Bennett Sr is being monitored closely for signs that his body may reject the new organ but the doctors say the first 48 critical hours have passed without any incident.

The doctors say the new heart is already functioning and doing most of the work and his doctors predict he could be taken off the heart-lung bypass by today, Tuesday.

Speaking, the director of the cardiac transplant programme at the centre who performed the surgery, Dr. Bartley Griffith stated that the newly transplanted heart is the heart of the patient.

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“It is his heart. It creates the pulse, creates the pressure. It is working and it looks normal. We are thrilled, but we don’t know what tomorrow will bring us.

“This has never been done before,” he explained.

Bennett who was said to have an uncertain prognosis decided to gamble on the experimental treatment as he would have died without a new heart and was reported to be too sick to qualify for a human donor.

Currently, the patient who is still connected to a heart-lung bypass machine that kept him alive before surgery is likely to be taken off the machine on Tuesday.

Bennett Sr had stated that this was a do-or-die transplant and that he wanted to live. “This is a shot in the dark but it’s my last choice.”

The surgery xenotransplantation is a process of transplanting organs or tissues from animal to humans and pigs have been said to offer an advantage over primates for an organ transplant because they are easier to raise and achieve adult human size in six months, New York Times said.

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Modern technologies like gene editing and cloning were used to yield genetically modified pig organs that are less likely to be rejected by humans.

According to the report, the heart transplant into the patient came from a genetically modified pig that had received 10 genetic modifications.

It stated that four genes were knocked out including the one that causes aggressive human rejection response.

A growth gene was inactivated to prevent the pig’s heart from continuing to grow after it was implanted.

Six human genes were also inserted into the genome of the donor pig to make the organ more tolerable to the human immune system.

 

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