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First patient to receive pig heart transplant dies 2 months after surgery – WAVY.com

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The first person to receive a heart transplant from a dead pig, two months after the groundbreaking trial, the Maryland hospital where the surgery was performed announced Wednesday.

David Bennett, 57, died Tuesday at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Doctors did not give the exact cause of death, only saying that his condition had started to deteriorate a few days before.

Bennett’s son praised the hospital for providing the ultimate experiment, saying the family hoped it would help further efforts to end the organ shortage.

“We are grateful for every moment of renewal, every crazy dream, every sleepless night that went into this historic endeavor,” David Bennett Jr. said in a statement released by the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “We hope this story may be the beginning of hope, not the end.”

Doctors for decades have been looking for ways to use animal organs for life-saving transplants one day. Bennett, a skilled craftsman from Hagerstown, Maryland, is a candidate for this latest endeavor simply because he has faced certain death – ineligible for a human heart transplant, bedridden and incapacitated. on life support, and among other options.

After the January 7 surgery, Bennett’s son told the Associated Press his father knew there was no guarantee it would work.

Previous attempts at such transplants – or xenot transplants – have largely failed because the patient’s body quickly discards the animal’s organs. This time, surgeons in Maryland used a heart from a gene-edited pig: Scientists modified the animal to remove the pig’s genes that trigger super-fast elimination. and added human genes to help the body accept organs.

At first, the pig’s heart was working fine, and the Maryland hospital periodically gave updates that Bennett appeared to be recovering. Last month, the hospital released a video of him watching the Super Bowl from his hospital bed while working with a physiotherapist.

Bennett survived significantly longer with the gene-edited pig heart than in one of the last major milestones in xenot transplants – when Baby Fae, a dying infant in California, lived was 21 days with the heart of a baboon in 1984.

“We are devastated by the loss of Mr. Bennett. He proved to be a brave and noble patient who fought to the end,” said Dr. Bartley Griffith, who performed the surgery at the Baltimore hospital, in a statement.

The demand for another source of organs is great. More than 41,000 transplants were performed in the US last year, a record – including about 3,800 heart transplants. But more than 106,000 people remain on the nation’s waiting list, thousands die every year before their organs are harvested, and thousands more are never even added to the list, which is considered too long.

The Food and Drug Administration authorized the dramatic Maryland trial under the “compassionate use” rule for emergency situations. Bennett’s doctors said he had heart failure and an irregular heartbeat, plus a history of failing to follow medical instructions. He was deemed ineligible for a human heart transplant that would require the strict use of immunosuppressive drugs, or the remaining alternative, an implantable heart pump.

Doctors did not reveal the exact cause of Bennett’s death. Rejection, infection, and other complications are risks to the transplant recipient.

But from Bennett’s experience, “we gained invaluable insights when we learned that genetically engineered pig hearts can function well in humans while the immune system is fully suppressed,” says Dr. Dr. Muhammad Mohiuddin, scientific director of the department of zoology at the University of Maryland, said the human transplant program.

A follow-up question is whether scientists have learned enough from Bennett’s experience and several other recent experiments with gene-edited pig organs to convince the FDA to allow clinical trials – possibly with an organ such as a kidney does not cause immediate death if it fails. .

Twice last fall, surgeons at New York University got permission from the families of the deceased to temporarily attach a gene-edited pig kidney to blood vessels outside the body, and watch them in action before the end of life. And surgeons at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have gone a step further, transplanting a gene-edited pair of pig kidneys into a brain-dead man in a step-by-step rehearsal for an operation that They hope to try it in living patients possibly later. five.

Pigs have long been used in human medicine, including pig skin grafts and pig heart valve transplants. But a whole-organ transplant is much more complicated than using highly processed tissue. The gene-edited pigs used in these experiments were provided by Revivicor, a subsidiary of United Therapeutics, one of several biotech companies working to develop organs. of pigs suitable for potential human transplantation.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Division receives support from the Howard Hughes Health Institute’s Science Education Department. AP is solely responsible for all content.

https://www.wavy.com/news/national/first-patient-to-get-pig-heart-transplant-dies-2-months-after-surgery/ First patient to receive pig heart transplant dies 2 months after surgery – WAVY.com

Russell Falcon

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