A patient in the United States has become the first person in the world to receive a genetically modified heart transplant from a pig.
David Bennett, 57, is doing well, according to doctors, three days after the seven-hour trial procedure in Baltimore.
The transplant was considered the last hope to save Bennett’s life, although it remains unclear what his chances of long-term survival are.
“Either she died or she had this transplant,” Bennett explained the day before the surgery. “I know it’s a remote chance, but it’s my last option.”
Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center were given special authorization by the US Medical Regulator to perform the procedure, based on the fact that Bennett would have died without it.
It was ruled ineligible for a human transplant – a decision often made when a patient is in very poor health.
For the medical team that performed the transplant, the unprecedented procedure is the culmination of years of research and could change lives around the world.
Surgeon Bartley Griffith said the surgery brings the world “one step closer to solving the organ shortage crisis,” according to a statement from the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Today, 17 people die every day in the United States waiting for a transplant, with more than 100,000 on the waiting list.
The possibility of using animal organs in so-called xenotransplantation (transplanting cells, tissues or organs from one type to another) to meet the demand for transplants has been studied. The use of pig heart valves is already common.
In October 2021, surgeons in New York announced that they had successfully transplanted a pig’s kidney into a person. At the time, the process was the most advanced to date. However, the recipient on that occasion was brain dead and had no hope of recovery.
Bennett hopes the transplant will allow him to continue living. He was bedridden for six weeks before surgery and was connected to a machine that kept him alive after being diagnosed with chronic heart disease.
“I can’t wait to get out of bed after I recover,” he said last week.
On Monday (1/10), it was reported that Bennett was already breathing on his own. But it is unclear exactly what will happen from now on.
AFP reported that the pig used for the transplant had been genetically modified to remove several genes that would have caused Bennett’s body to reject the organ.
David Bennett Jr., the patient’s son, told The Associated Press that the family is in “uncharted territory at this time.” But he added, “He knows how much has been accomplished and he knows how important it really is.”
“We’ve never done this on a human before and I like to think we’ve given him a better option than continuing his treatment,” said surgeon Bartley Griffiths. “But if [ele viverá] A day, a week, a month, a year, I can’t say.”
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