It was genetically altered to work for a human. 👀
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Doctors from University of Maryland Medicine just made history by successfully transplanting a genetically modified pig's heart into a human.
The surgery was conducted on a 57-year-old man, David Bennett, who had terminal end-stage heart disease and had exhausted all options, says a news release from the university's school of medicine.
"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," said Bennett before the surgery. "I look forward to getting out of bed after I recover."
Three days after the procedure, Bennett was still in stable condition, suggesting that the surgery had been successful and his body was not rejecting the new foreign organ.
UMMC performs first-of-its-kind surgery successfully transplanting a genetically-modified pig heart to terminal heart disease patient. Learn more: https://www.umms.org/ummc/news/2022/first-successful-transplant-of-porcine-heart-into-adult-human-heart\u00a0\u2026pic.twitter.com/ycgKYSYtWm— Univ. of Maryland Medical Center (@Univ. of Maryland Medical Center) 1641850954
"This organ transplant demonstrated for the first time that a genetically-modified animal heart can function like a human heart without immediate rejection by the body," says the news release.
Bennett will be carefully monitored over the next few weeks to ensure that the procedure results are safe and prove to have lifesaving effects.
The surgery was given emergency authorization on New Year's Eve by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, given the transplant was the patient's only available option to live.
The heart was transplanted into the patient by Dr. Bartley P. Griffith, a professor in transplant surgery at the university.
"This was a breakthrough surgery and brings us one step closer to solving the organ shortage crisis," said Dr. Griffith. "There are simply not enough donor human hearts available to meet the long list of potential recipients."
According to the U.S. Department of Health, there are currently over 100,000 people on the waiting list for an organ donation in the States, and an average of 17 people die each day waiting for a transplant.
However, some people have raised questions about the ethics of the surgery.
The surgery was not conducted as part of a clinical trial, which is usually required for experimental procedures like this one, reported Stat News. Bennett was also given experimental drugs that haven't been tested for this use to help his body accept the transplant, which has raised some eyebrows.
The surgery also raised questions about the ethics of using animals for human transplants.
Animal rights organization PETA called the surgery "unethical" in a statement condemning the breakthrough.
"Animal-to-human transplants are unethical, dangerous, and a tremendous waste of resources that could be used to fund research that might actually help humans," said Dr. Alka Chandna, vice president of laboratory investigations cases at PETA.
Dr. Chandna also suggested that viruses can be transmitted from animals to humans because of such surgeries.
"The risk of transmitting unknown viruses along with the animal organ are real and, in the time of a pandemic, should be enough to end these studies forever," she said.
"Animals aren't toolsheds to be raided but complex, intelligent beings. It would be better for them and healthier for humans to leave them alone and seek cures using modern science."
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