Man gets Genetically modified pig heart transplant.

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A team of doctors led by Dr Bartley P. Griffith (MD) has successfully transplanted a genetically modified pig heart into a human on January 10, 2022.

Mr. David Bennett, age 57, was diagonalized with arrhythmia & was connected to a heart-lung bypass machine called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) to remain alive.

He was held unfit for a human transplant. He had no other option, as told by his son. A day before the surgery, David said, “It was either die or do this transplant.”

He said he wanted to live as per the statement provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine. It was his last hope to live.  

The donated heart was developed & delivered by Revivicor, a Blacksburg, VA based regenerative medicine company. The pig had ten genes modified. Four among the ten were deactivated, including the one that causes an aggressive immune response—a gene that would cause a pig’s heart to grow after transplant was also deactivated.  

Man gets Genetically modified pig heart transplant
Image source: Mark Teske/University of Maryland School of Medicine

To reduce the reluctance in the human body & increase the chances of acceptance, six human hormones were also added to the body of the donor pig. 

The US Food and Drug Administration authorized the experiment through its expanded access provision. This access is used for genetically modified products like in this case; it was the only option available in such life-threatening medical conditions.  

Man gets Genetically modified pig heart transplant
Image source: University of Maryland

Bartley P. Griffith, MD and Patient David Bennet.  

Officials of the hospital said that he’s doing well after three days of surgery. 

This type of transplantation, where an animal organ is transplanted into the human body, is called Xenotransplantation. These types of transplants have notably failed in the past, including the Baby Fae transplant of 1984, where the infant whose heart was transplanted with a baboon’s heart lived for 21 days only.  

If David lives, it will be a new ray of hope for humanity, and this experiment will be able to save the lives of millions of people around the world suffering cardiac diseases. 

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