In a First, Man Receives a Heart From a Genetically Altered Pig

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: A 57-year-old man with life-threatening heart disease has received a heart from a genetically modified pig, a groundbreaking procedure that offers hope to hundreds of thousands of patients with failing organs. It is the first successful transplant of a pig's heart into a human being. The eight-hour operation took place in Baltimore on Friday, and the patient, David Bennett Sr. of Maryland, was doing well on Monday, according to surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Center. "It creates the pulse, it creates the pressure, it is his heart," said Dr. Bartley Griffith, the director of the cardiac transplant program at the medical center, who performed the operation. "It's working and it looks normal. We are thrilled, but we don't know what tomorrow will bring us. This has never been done before." The heart transplant comes just months after surgeons in New York successfully attached the kidney of a genetically engineered pig to a brain-dead person. Researchers hope procedures like this will usher in a new era in medicine in the future when replacement organs are no longer in short supply for the more than half a million Americans who are waiting for kidneys and other organs. "This is a watershed event," said Dr. David Klassen, the chief medical officer of the United Network for Organ Sharing and a transplant physician. "Doors are starting to open that will lead, I believe, to major changes in how we treat organ failure." But he added that there were many hurdles to overcome before such a procedure could be broadly applied, noting that rejection of organs occurs even when a well-matched human donor kidney is transplanted.

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