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World medical first: a pig’s heart transplanted into a 57-year-old American patient


A genetically modified pig’s heart was transplanted into a 57-year-old man. A world first successfully achieved by the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Since this operation of about seven hours, the patient has felt good, his body not having rejected this new organ of animal origin.

For David Benett, it was either transplant or death, although doctors remain cautious about his chances of long-term survival:

“This is a major surgical breakthrough that brings us one step closer to a solution to the organ shortage”, commented Dr Bartley Griffith, who performed the transplant.

For the surgeon, this world first brings hope for the patients in the future whereas today, nearly 110,000 Americans are awaiting an organ transplant.

The transplanted heart is from a pig genetically modified to prevent the production of a type of sugar in pig cells that causes organ rejection in humans.

Medicine has long been experimenting with transplants between species. In 1984, a baboon heart was transplanted into a baby who only survived 20 days.

With AFP

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