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World's First Transplant, A Man Receives a Genetically Engineered Pig Heart.

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Peeyush Ghalot
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The University of Maryland Medical Center recently reported that a Baltimore man had become the first to have his heart replaced with a genetically engineered pig. The procedure, which was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on December 31, 2021 was the first time in decades that a heart from another species was transplanted into a human. It was also the first time that a heart from a pig was used, which was engineered to avoid rejection by the human immune system. Even though the patient, David Bennett, Sr., is still on a heart-lung bypass system, he is doing well.

(Picture: BBC)

The lack of human organs available for transplantation has long plagued the sector, with many patients spending years on waiting lists as their health deteriorates. Researchers began tinkering with the genes of pigs to make their organs more acceptable to human immune systems with the emergence of gene editing. They some years ago attempted cross-species transplantation from modified pigs to baboons. Montgomery successfully transplanted a modified pig kidney into a person a few months ago. Still, the recipient had no visible brain activity at the time, and the procedure was done as an experiment rather than a treatment. So far, the heart appears to be in good operating order. Nothing like this has ever been done before.

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