The very first pig heart transplant took place two months ago. If the operation had been successful, the patient had just died after a sudden rejection of the heart.
David Benett had raised immense hope in many people with heart disease. He was indeed the very first person in the world to receive a genetically modified pig’s heart. Two months after the operation, he died this week. The son of David Benett welcomed the few extra weeks that were granted to his father thanks to this operation.
Indeed, the state of health of David Benett did not allow him to receive a classic transplant, this unprecedented transplant was therefore the only way out for the patient. Aware of his condition, he was totally ready to carry out this high-risk experimental operation. Despite the death of the patient, the researchers are very happy with this first, which remains in a certain sense a success.
A successful first despite a tragic end
The doctors explain that the patient was able to live for two months with this genetically modified pig’s heart. A great success for the very first heart xenograft in history. The scientific director of the xenotransplantation program at the University of Maryland Hospital, Muhammad Mohiuddin, says he is optimistic for the continuation of the program.
Indeed, David Benett managed to live several weeks without the body showing any signs of rejection. For Professor Philippe Menasché, cardiac surgeon at the Georges Pompidou European Hospital (APHP), despite the sadness and disappointment of the patient’s death, this first operation is a real source of hope for thousands of people around the world. who are awaiting transplant.
Transplants from animal organs are indeed a real solution for the medical world, which has the greatest difficulty in finding donors. In order to avoid the risk of rejection with organs from animals such as pigs, doctors spend several weeks genetically modifying it.
A great source of hope for the future
For David Benett’s transplant, the doctors behind his operation, for example, modified several genes responsible for the growth of the heart. Indeed, the organ of a pig is much larger than the human heart, so this growth had to be removed so that the heart does not come crashing against the rib cage during its evolution.
The death of David Benett is therefore a great proof of hope for the world of xenotransplantations. The pig has long been the animal that seems closest to us and many transplants performed from pig organs should take place in the next few years, with the hope that one of them will be completely successful.