The world’s first genetically modified pig heart transplant was performed on a 57-year-old American


David Bennett, a 57-year-old American, is the first person in the world to have a heart transplant of a genetically modified pig. The patient’s condition is good three days after the seven-hour experimental operation, performed by doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.

The pig transplant was the last hope to save the man’s life, although it is not yet clear what his life expectancy is now. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted special authorization for the groundbreaking transplant on the grounds that the patient would otherwise have died.

His doctors, led by Professor Bartley Griffith of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, hope to pave the way for a new type of transplant that will save the lives of many people around the world due to a lack of adequate human organs for transplantation. Many people on transplant waiting lists die each year before they can get the vital organ they need.

Animal transplantation (xenograft), first tested in the 1980s, aims to meet the growing demand. Pig heart valves have been transplanted for decades. Last October, the first successful pig kidney transplant in a brain-dead man with no hope of recovery took place in New York. In the case of Bennett, who suffered from severe heart disease, there is hope that he will gain several years of life, something that must be confirmed.

The pig from which the heart was obtained had previously been genetically modified by the American biotechnology company Revivicor (a subsidiary of United Therapeutics), in order to inactivate some of its genes, which may have led to the rejection of the organ as a foreign body by the body of the patient. Doctors said it was too early to say for sure that the transplant was successful and that the animal’s heart would function in the human body without any problems. The following days and weeks are considered critical.

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