US doctors successfully insert pig hearts into patients

Status: 11.01.2022 02:36 a.m.

A transplant team in the United States connected a genetically modified pig heart to a human patient for the first time. The organ was inserted into a 57-year-old man with life-threatening heart disease.

By Torsten Teichmann, ARD-Studio Washington

David Bennet had no prospect of a human donor heart. There were only two options left: die, or accept the suggestion of medical professionals at the University of Maryland. The doctors put a pig heart in the 57-year-old.

Three days after the operation, the doctors now spoke of a success – even if it is still too early for a final assessment. It’s a first step.

Soon an unlimited supply of organs?

If the procedure works like this, there could be an unlimited supply of organs for patients in need of a transplant, said Muhammed Mohi’uddin, the program’s scientific director, in a written statement from the university. In the United States, more than 100,000 people are waiting for organ donation.

But it’s still about every day. So that the patient’s body does not reject the animal organ after the transplant, the doctors took the heart of a pig that had been genetically modified. So far, heart valves from pigs have been used on sick patients. Pig skin also helps treat burn victims temporarily.

FDA special approval

However, further operations are only possible through genetic modification and the cloning of cells. In a medical attempt last September, surgeons in New York succeeded in connecting a pig’s kidney to a deceased patient who could only be kept alive artificially. The organ worked. The woman’s family had agreed to the experiment beforehand.

In the case of David Bennet and the University of Maryland, the FDA granted special clearance for the transplant.

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