US doctors made history for the first time by transplanting a pig’s heart after a genetic mutation in a 57-year-old patient in a last-ditch effort to save his life. Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center were granted a special dispensation by the US medical regulator to carry out the procedure,
In the midst of rapidly increasing heart disease and the shortage of human organs on a global scale, this important and complex operation of doctors has opened up new possibilities in the medical world. The Baltimore hospital has said that it has been three days since the operation and the patient is in good condition. This is an important step in the direction of research. Dr Bartley Griffith led the seven-hour operation last Friday at the hospital.
He explains that the condition of patient David Bennett was such that a human heart could not be transplanted in him. Pig heart valves have been used in humans for decades, and Bennett had a similar valve installed a decade ago. In 1984, a langur’s (monkey) heart was transplanted into a child, but he lived only 21 days.
According to a statement issued by the University of Maryland Medical Center, a day before the operation, Bennett said, “This transplant is a do or die situation for me. I want to live, I know it’s like shooting an arrow in the dark, but that’s the last option I have.”
Dr Muhammad Mohiuddin, scientific director of the University of Maryland’s Animal-to-Human Transplant Program, said, “If this operation is successful, it will be possible to have an endless supply of organs needed for patients.”
In the US alone, about 1.10 lakh people are waiting for organ transplantation, while more than 6,000 people die every year due to a lack of transplants.
The pig’s heart has been developed by Revivcor, a subsidiary of United Therapeutics, whose transplant has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. In September last year, a pig kidney was transplanted experimentally into a dead man in New York.