HISTORY was made in January of 2022, when a man received the world’s first-ever pig heart transplant.
The 57-year-old patient survived the surgery and is currently breathing on his own, without a ventilator.
Who received the world’s first pig heart transplant?
On Friday, January 7, 2022, Dave Bennett became the first human patient to receive an organ from a gene-edited pig.
The surgery took place at the University of Maryland Medical Center and took upwards of nine hours to complete.
A one-year-old, 240-pound pig who was specifically bred for the purpose of the transplant, provided a working heart for Bennett.
“This is nothing short of a miracle,” Bennett’s son, David, told the center.
“That’s what my dad needed, and that’s what I feel like he got.”
Although Bennett remains on an ECMO machine to help pump blood through his body, he is breathing on his own and doctors plan to slowly wean him off of the machine.
“This is a truly remarkable breakthrough,” said Robert Montgomery, a transplant surgeon at NYU Langone who has also received a heart transplant himself.
“I am thrilled by this news and the hope it gives to my family and other patients who will eventually be saved by this breakthrough.”
Why a pig heart?
Because hundreds of thousands of people remain on organ transplant waitlists each year, scientists and doctors have spent decades attempting to figure out how to save human lives via animal organs.
Nearly 6,000 people on the list die each year waiting for a viable organ.
Pigs reportedly have similar organs to those of human beings.
Montgomery worked on a transplant surgery in September, putting a pig kidney into a human.
After receiving a follow-up surgery in December, the patient was declared brain dead.
However, Montgomery kept the patient’s body functioning via machine, in an attempt to prove the human immune system did not immediately reject the gene-edited pig kidney.
What has been said about the pig heart transplant?
According to Associated Press, Bennett said prior to his surgery: “It was either die or do this transplant.
“I want to live. I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice.”
Bennett began experiencing severe chest pains in October, according to David.
After months of attempting to get on a donor list, Bennett was repeatedly rejected due to an uncontrollable arrhythmia.
According to USA Today, Bennett agreed to consider the surgery on December 15, 2021.
By December 20, officials in Maryland sent an application to the FDA, requesting authorization.
Most read in News
On December 31, 2021, the FDA granted emergency authorization for the surgery.
One week later, the surgery began around 8.30am local time, ending around 5.30pm.
“There are sure to be many more twists and turns along the road of getting our immune system to play nice with implanted animal organs,” said Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, director of education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center.
“I suspect this is a first step on the journey from yesterday’s ‘scientifically unimaginable’ to today’s ‘barely achievable’ to tomorrow’s ‘standard of care.'”