Medical Technology

Pig Heart Successfully Transplanted to Man

Officials from the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), Baltimore announced today that the genetically modified heart of a pig was successfully transplanted into a 57 year old man who was left with no other options. However, he is doing well 3 days after the procedure.

“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,” they said.

First pig-to-human heart transplant.

Three genes that are associated with rejection by antibodies had been knocked out in the pig that supplies the transplanted heart, while six human genes associated with immunity to the organ had been inserted into the genome of the pig, according to in a UMMC press release.

“Lastly another gene was deleted from the pig in order to stop excessive growth of the heart tissue. The total was 10 unique gene editings within the donor Pig,” the release states.

The patient, Maryland resident David Bennett was in need of mechanical circulatory support to stay alive but was rejected for standard heart transplantation at UMMC and other centers. He was not eligible for an implanted ventricular assist device due to ventricular arrhythmias.

Drs Griffith and Bennett.

The announcement states that Bennett is being closely monitored over the coming weeks and days to determine if the transplant can provide lifesaving benefits.

“We are taking our time however, we are confident that this world-first surgery will provide an important new option for patients in the coming years,” notes a quote from Bartley P. Griffith, MD, the UMMC surgeon who performed the procedure.

Revivicor (Blacksburg), Virginia) is a regenerative medical company, provided the pig that provided the heart. In addition to the standard immunosuppressants, Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals, Lexington, Massachusetts, used an experimental antirejection drug.

Dr Mohiuddin and the transplant team.

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