A U.S. Maryland man 57 old became the first person in the world to get a heart transplant from a genetically modified pig, after a nine-hour surgery in Baltimore. The patient, David Bennet, is doing well after three days. “It was either die or do this transplant,” Mr Bennett explained a day before the surgery. He had been deemed ineligible for a human transplant and was for six weeks attached to a machine which kept him alive after he was diagnosed with terminal heart disease. “Regardless of what happens, I want to help other people,” Bennett told his son before the surgery. The surgery was experimental and its outcome was uncertain. Actually, around 17 people a day in the U.S. die waiting for a transpant as more than 100,000 are on the waiting list. Until now, using pig heart valves was already common. Pigs have similar organs to humans. The pig used in the transplant now, 1-year-old, 240-pound, had been genetically modified to knock out several genes that would have led to the organ being rejected.
Bennett is breathing on his own without a ventilator but he remains for the instant on an ECMO machine that does about half the work of pumping blood throughout his body. This performed surgery offers hope for thousands in need of organs. Scientists have worked for decades to figure out how to save human lives with animal organs. “This is a truly remarkable breakthrough,” said Robert Montgomery, a transplant surgeon at NYU Langone and a heart transplant patient himself. However, animal rights activists object to the use of pig organs. Some ethicists also have fewer concerns.