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Science & Technology

Man receives genetically-modified pig heart in transplant breakthrough

By T.K. Randall
January 11, 2022 · Comment icon 20 comments

Could genetically-modified pig organs be the answer to organ shortages ? Image Credit:
The 57-year-old became the first person ever to undergo the transplant.
David Bennett, who has terminal heart disease, underwent the procedure at the University of Maryland Medical Center this week after doctors were granted a special dispensation to carry out the transplant on the basis that he would have died without it.

"It was either die or do this transplant," he said beforehand.

"I know it's a shot in the dark, but it's my last choice."

The transplant was unique in that it used the heart from a pig that had been genetically modified to disable certain genes that would have seen it rejected by the recipient.

Bennett was ineligible for a human heart transplant because of his ill-health.
Incredibly, the procedure went well and he is now recovering in hospital with his new heart.

The success is particularly important because if it is possible to use pig organs in humans, it could mean that the lives of thousands of patients on the organ waiting list could be saved.

As things stand, however, the long-term outlook for Bennett remains uncertain.

"He's at more of a risk because we require more immunosuppression, slightly different than we would normally do in a human-to-human transplant," said Dr Christine Lau. "How well the patient does from now is, you know, it's never been done before so we really don't know."

"People die all the time on the waiting list, waiting for organs. If we could use genetically engineered pig organs they'd never have to wait, they could basically get an organ as they needed it."

Source: BBC News | Comments (20)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #11 Posted by Jon the frog 2 years ago
Pig hearths are a good fit, big enough and in quantities. Not a lot of monkey have big enough hearth, they are hard to keep for breeding and are too much ''human'' to be used for spare parts.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Eldorado 2 years ago
Man who got first pig heart transplant dies after two months
Comment icon #13 Posted by susieice 2 years ago
I just saw this too.
Comment icon #14 Posted by taniwha 2 years ago
I wonder if you can put a modified human heart in a pig?
Comment icon #15 Posted by spartan max2 2 years ago
That's sad. Atleast he got two months longer to spend time with his family than he would have otherwise. They haven't released what caused the death yet, I'm curious to see. Regardless of what it is that knowledge will push the field forward more. 2 months in a new record when it comes to xeno heart transplants.
Comment icon #16 Posted by llegendary 2 years ago
No.  They use pig hearts because they are closer anatomically to a human heart.  Humans share many features of pigs.  Eye color to skin.
Comment icon #17 Posted by Jon the frog 2 years ago
It's why I say it's a good fit... and they have quantity too. A gorilla heart or Chimp heart is mostly identical to human one... DNA is way closer to alleviate imune system reaction. It's why they are working on hybrid for graft. It's nothing about color of skin tho, lol !  
Comment icon #18 Posted by Eldorado 2 years ago
Comment icon #19 Posted by spartan max2 2 years ago
This is actually good news. A pig virus is something that is preventable and treatable, which gives hope for how effective the xenotransplants might 
Comment icon #20 Posted by llegendary 2 years ago
Just because DNA may be closer, key shared components that humans share with pigs and not apes make pig hearts more anatomically similar to human.  Size matters.  Google "What heart is most similar to humans?".  The answer is Pig hearts.

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