DNA testing process detailed by genetics expert
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David Bennett, 57, is said to be doing well three days after the seven-hour procedure in Baltimore, US. The procedure was the last hope of saving Mr Bennett’s life, though it is not yet clear what his long-term outlook will be. Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center were granted a special dispensation by the US medical regulator to carry out the experimental procedure.
Mr Bennett said it was “either die or do this transplant”.
He explained: “I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice.”
The patient had been deemed unsuitable for a human heart transport – this is believed to be due to his poor health.
But the procedure was hailed as an important step forward in “solving the organ shortage crisis”.
The crisis is seeing, on average, 17 people a day in the US die waiting for a transplant.
There are said to be more than 100,000 on the waiting list.
The possibility of using animal organs for xenotransplantation has long been seen as a possible solution.
Pig heart valves are already commonly used, but this is the first time the entire organ has been replaced.
In October 2021, surgeons in New York announced that they had successfully transplanted a pig’s kidney into a person, but the recipient was left brain dead and later died.
Researchers are now crossing their fingers in the hope Mr Bennett’s body will accept the transplant.
The pig used in the transplant had been genetically-modified to knock out several genes that would lead to this.
The patient is said to already be breathing on his own while being carefully monitored.
He said: “I look forward to getting out of bed after I recover.”
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But his son, David Bennett Jr, said the family is currently “in the unknown at this point”.
He added: “He realises the magnitude of what was done and he really realises the importance of it.”
“We’ve never done this in a human and I like to think that we, we have given him a better option than what continuing his therapy would have been,” Mr Griffith said.
“But whether [he will live for] a day, week, month, year, I don’t know.”
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