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First transplant of a genetically modified pig heart on a patient in the United States

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It’s a world first, American surgeons have successfully transplanted the heart of a genetically modified pig into a human patient. The patient, David Bennett is a 57 year old American, who had been declared ineligible to receive a human transplant. This animal organ transplant was therefore the last hope to save this patient. terminally ill with heart disease. “It was either death or this transplant. I want to live. I know it’s pretty hit and miss, but it was my last option, ”said David Bennett, a day before his operation.

The operation took place in Baltimore this Friday, January 7, by American surgeons from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The university was pleased with the success of this operation, which demonstrates that an animal heart can continue to function inside a human without immediate rejection, explained the institution in a press release published on Monday, January 10.

A genetically modified pig’s heart

The pig from which the heart that was transplanted into the American patient was taken was genetically modified in order to no longer produce a type of sugar normally present in all pig cells which is incompatible with the human body. This genetic manipulation therefore prevents the patient’s body from immediately rejecting the organ. This genetic modification was carried out by the American company Revivicor, which in October 2021 provided a pig kidney that surgeons had successfully connected to the blood vessels of a brain-dead patient in New York.

A hope for the fight against the shortage of organs

This successful transplant of an animal organ into a human patient is a hope for the fight against the shortage of organs. “This is a major surgical breakthrough and one that brings us one step closer to solving the organ shortage,” said Bartley Griffith, the surgeon who performed the transplant. If for the moment the operation is a success, the surgeon remains cautious “We are proceeding with caution but are also optimistic that this world first will provide an essential new option to patients in the future.”

Organ shortage cost the lives of 700 people who were on the waiting list for a transplant organs in 2019 in France according to the Greffe+ collective.

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