In the United States, for the first time, doctors placed the heart of a genetically modified pig in a human.
The experimental operation at a Maryland hospital was performed to save the life of 57-year-old David Bennett, who was struggling with a life-threatening heart condition. The operation was on 7 January. Its still too early to tell if it went successful, but the man is feeling good, the doctors tell The New York Times.
“The heart is working and it looks normal. Were excited, but we dont know what tomorrow brings us, because no one has ever done this again,” says one of the doctors involved, Bartley Griffith.
The man would die if the transplant was not performed. “I want to live,” said the man, according to the newspaper, a day before the operation. “I know its a step into the unknown, but it was my last choice.”
“Endless supply of organs”
Experts hope that the medical scoop will open doors for organ transplants in the future. “If this is going to work, it means an endless supply of organs for patients,” says the director of the hospitals transplant program to AP news agency.
The director of an American transplant organization does dampen expectations: “These events can be hugely inflated, but its important to maintain perspective. It takes a lot of time to be able to carry out these types of operations on a large scale.”
Last year, for the first time, a pig kidney was placed in a human being. The person who received the organ was a brain-dead patient with kidney failure. The placed kidney, just like the heart, was genetically engineered. As a result, the organs genes have changed so that the organ is not directly repelled by the body.