Doctors in the United States have declared a successful transplantation of a genetically modified pig’s heart into the human body, the first of its kind.
Doctors say David Bennett, who underwent surgery, recovered three days after a seven-hour operation.
The operation was seen as Bennett’s last hope of saving his life, although it is not yet clear what his chances of survival are in the long run.
The day before the operation, Bennett, 57, said, “Either I die or I have this operation.” This is my last resort.
Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center received special exemptions from U.S. medical authorities to perform the surgery on the grounds that Bennett would have died otherwise.
For the medical team performing the procedure, it is the culmination of years of research and can change lives around the world.
In a statement from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, surgeon Bart B. Griffith said surgery would “bring the world one step closer to resolving the crisis of organ failure.”
As a result of this crisis, 17 people die each day in the United States while waiting for an organ transplant, with more than 100,000 people on the waiting list, according to reports.
Studies have long been conducted to explore the possibility of using animal parts.
And in October 2021, New York surgeons announced that they had succeeded in transplanting pig kidneys into the human body. At the time, the process was by far the most advanced experiment in the field.
However, the recipient was then brain dead without any hope of recovery.
In any case, Bennett hopes the transplant will allow him to continue his life.
Bennett was bedridden for six weeks before the operation, and was diagnosed with heart disease and placed on a life-saving machine.
“I’m waiting to get out of bed when I’m well,” he said last Thursday.
But it is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.
AFP reports that the pigs used in the process were genetically modified to extract the gene that triggers the immune response in humans.
Griffith said he was “moving forward with caution” and was watching Bennett closely, while his son David Bennett Jr. admitted to the Associated Press that he was “unknown at this point”.
But he added, “He understands the measure of what happened and he really understands its importance.”