Man Breathing Freely After Pig Heart Transplant
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
WASHINGTON (Worthy News) – An American man was breathing on his own Monday after receiving the heart of a genetically modified pig in a groundbreaking operation.
David Bennett, a 57-year-old Maryland handyman, knew there was no guarantee the experiment would work. But he was dying, ineligible for a human heart transplant, and had no other option, his son confirmed.
“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 said a day before the surgery, according to a statement provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Bennett was breathing on his own while still connected to a heart-lung machine to help his new heart, medics said.
The next few weeks will be critical as Bennett recovers from the surgery and doctors carefully monitor how his heart is faring.
While it’s too soon to know if the operation really will work, it marks a step in the decades-long quest to one day uses animal organs for life-saving transplants.
Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center say the transplant showed that a heart from a genetically modified animal could function in the human body without immediate rejection.
That could offer hope for people awaiting donors worldwide amid a massive shortage of human organs donated for transplant. Additionally, there have been concerns about the illegal donor trade, including in countries such as China where prisoners are used, several rights groups confirmed.
Last year, there were just over 3,800 heart transplants in the U.S., a record number, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). “This is a watershed event,” said Dr. David Klassen, the chief medical officer of UNOS and a transplant physician. “Doors are starting to open that will lead, I believe, to major changes in how we treat organ failure,” he added in published remarks.
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