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Pig-heart transplant man making progress

The second person to have received a transplanted heart from a pig is recovering steadily, according to the patient’s medical team at the University of Maryland Hospital.

US man Lawrence Faucette (58) was dying from heart failure and ineligible for a traditional heart transplant when the doctors offered the highly experimental surgery, which was carried out on 20 September, reports TIME.

Last year, the medical team had performed the world’s first transplant of a heart from a genetically altered pig into another dying man, David Bennett, who survived just two months before the organ died, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear.

Signs of a pig virus were later found inside the heart, and lessons from that first experiment led to changes before this second try, including better virus testing.

Attempts at animal-to-human organ transplants (xenotransplants) have failed for decades, as people’s immune systems immediately destroyed the foreign tissue. Now scientists are trying again, using pigs genetically modified to make their organs more humanlike.

Last week, Faucette’s doctors said the pig heart has shown no sign of rejection.

“It is doing everything on its own,” said Dr Muhammad Mohiuddin, the Maryland team’s cardiac xenotransplantation chief.

A hospital spokeswoman said Faucette has been able to stand and physical therapists are helping him gain strength needed to attempt walking.

More than 100 000 people are on the nation’s list for a transplant, most awaiting kidneys, and thousands will die waiting.

A handful of scientific teams have tested pig kidneys and hearts in monkeys and in donated human bodies, hoping to learn enough for the US Food and Drug Administration to allow formal xenotransplant studies.

 

TIME article – Pig-Heart Transplant Recipient Is Doing Well After a Month (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Second pig-into-human heart transplant in US

 

Pig heart used in US transplant may have been infected with porcine virus

 

World first: Transplant of pig heart on terminal US patient

 

Gene-edited piglets opening door to animal organ transplants

 

 

 

 

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