Pig hearts successfully transplanted—twice
NYU Langone Health reported Tuesday that it successfully transplanted two pig hearts into two brain-dead humans during the past month. New York University-affiliated researchers carefully imitated the way that human-to-human heart transplants are performed — even down to traveling hundreds of miles away to retrieve the organ for the transplant. Doctors in Maryland six months ago tried a pig heart transplant on a man who survived for two months with the organ. In that case, initial testing failed to detect that the pig organ had carried an animal virus. Researchers are uncertain if the animal virus caused the man’s death.
What does this change? Over 100,000 people in the United States are on the waiting list for an organ, and thousands die every year still waiting on that list. If pig organs can successfully be transplanted into living humans, doctors will be able to save thousands of those lives. The FDA is already considering how to fast-track approval for transplanting pig organs into living people. NYU Langone Health said it had already received more than 50 calls from desperate people wanting to volunteer to receive pig organ transplants.
Dig deeper: Listen to Nick Eicher and Myrna Brown’s conversation with John Stonestreet on The World and Everything in It podcast about the ethical questions embedded in xenotransplantation procedures.
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