U.S. surgeons transplant pig heart to human patient
The 57-year-old Maryland handyman is recovering well and breathing on his own a few days after receiving a pig’s heart in an experimental transplant surgery, doctors at the University of Maryland School of Medicine said Monday. David Bennett, who had heart failure and an irregular heartbeat, was ineligible for a human heart transplant or a heart pump, so the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allowed the groundbreaking surgery on Friday under a “compassionate use” emergency authorization. It is the first time a pig heart has been successfully transplanted into a human.
Is he recovering well? Doctors said the next few weeks are critical as they monitor how Bennett’s new heart is faring. In one notable prior attempt of an animal-to-human heart transplant in 1983, a child known as Baby Fae lived for 21 days with a baboon heart. This time, scientists gene-edited the pig heart to remove a sugar in its cells that normally causes rapid organ rejection. Dr. Bartley Griffith, who performed Friday’s surgery, had previously transplanted pig hearts into about 50 baboons.
Dig deeper: Read Heather Frank’s report in Beginnings on ethical debates over animal-human transplants.
If you enjoyed this article and would like to support WORLD's brand of Biblically sound journalism, click here.