Surgeons in the US have successfully implanted a heart from a pig to a 57-year-old man. The genetically modified pig’s heart was taken in a medical first experiment and this could one day help solve the chronic shortage of organ donations.
The one of its kind procedure took place last week on Friday, the University of Maryland Medical School said in a statement. However, the patient’s prognosis is far from certain, it represents a major milestone for the animal to human transplantation.
David Bennett, the patient, had been deemed ineligible for a human transplant with poor health.
But now he is recovering well and being carefully monitored.
Bennett has spent the last several months bedridden on a heart-lung bypass machine.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also granted emergency authorization for the surgery.
It can be seen as a breakthrough surgery and brings scientists one step closer to solving the organ shortage crisis.
The surgery is the culmination of years of research that involved pig-to-baboon transplants, with survival times that exceeded nine months.
The surgery remains a proof-of-concept experiment, and the kidney was connected outside the patient’s body.
The donated organ, the heart was kept in an organ-preservation machine ahead of the surgery.
These days, pig heart valves are widely used in humans, and pigskin is grafted on human burn victims.
Moreover, pigs make the ideal donors because of their size, rapid growth and large litters.