Pig Heart to Human Transplant
The Food and Drug Administration gave emergency authorization for an unprecedented procedure based on “compassionate use” for experimental products for use when a patient has a life-threatening situation, without the constructs of a clinical trial.
David Bennett has been in hospital with arrhythmia — an irregular heartbeat — for months.
On Friday morning, surgeons took out the heart from a pig, provided by Revivicor, a regenerative medicine company located in Blacksburg, Va. They placed it in an apparatus to maintain it until heart transplant to David Bennett.
Doctors inside and outside this hospital considered Bennett ineligible for a heart transplant from a human donor.
“It was either die or do this transplant,” Bennett said in a statement the day before the surgery. “I want to live. I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice.”
Dr. Bartley P. Griffith, the surgeon did the transplant, confirmed before the surgery that skin and heart valves from pigs are similar to humans and primates.
Scientists pushed aside three genes that could reject the pig organ when transplanted into a human. They also placed 6 human genes that prepare the immune system to accept what otherwise might be considered a pathogen or other threat to the human body.
More than 106,000 Americans are on the organ transplant waiting list.
Unfortunately, it means 17 people die here each day waiting for an organ. Dr. Griffith mentioned that the “ground-breaking” procedure would move us closer to a solution for the organ shortage crisis.
We continue to see more advances in regenerative medicine as treatments. Please watch this space as the innovations move forward.
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