Pig heart transplant in human: The son speaks of a "miracle of science"

The son of David Bennett, the first man in the world to have a heart transplant of a genetically modified pig, spoke today of “a miracle”.

The patient’s condition is good five days after the pioneering seven-hour 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 issued a special permit for the groundbreaking transplant on the grounds that the 57-year-old patient would have died.

“It’s important to my father, to the United States, to the whole world,” said David Bennett Jr. “It is innovative, remarkable and, I honestly believe, it is a miracle,” he added. “I myself have problems with my heart, at the age of 37. “So my father is definitely changing the future for myself,” said the recipient’s son.

A few hours before the operation, the transplant team removed the heart of the genetically modified pig and placed it in a special device in order to maintain its function until the surgery.

“He was in the operating room for three consecutive days. His whole body was swollen and he suffered a lot. “The postoperative course is a long process and his first words were, ‘I will not stand it, but I know how strong my dad is,'” said David Bennett Jr.

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.

Source: ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ

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