Man Receives a Heart From a Gene-Edited Pig


Aug 11, 2021
Pig Heart Transplanted in Human
The swine-to-person cardiac transplant offers hope for thousands in need of organs

Corryn Wetzel
Daily Correspondent
January 11, 2022 3:00 p.m.
A group of doctors in an operating room, one doctor holding a pig heart

The gene-edited pig heart recipient, who was ineligible for a human heart transplant, is doing well three days after the surgery. University of Maryland School of Medicine Doctors have successfully transplanted a pig heart into a patient in a last-ditch effort to save his life. The highly experimental surgery marks the first time a gene-edited pig has been used as an organ donor for a human and provides hope to the hundreds of thousands of Americans in need of organ transplants. Three days after the surgery, doctors report the 57-year-old Maryland man and his new heart are doing well.
“It creates the pulse, it creates the pressure, it is his heart,” says Dr. Bartley Griffith, who performed the operation at University of Maryland Medical Center, to Roni Caryn Rabin for the New York Times. “It’s working and it looks normal. We are thrilled, but we don’t know what tomorrow will bring us. This has never been done before."
The heart recipient, David Bennett, agreed to be the first to undergo the eight-hour surgery knowing there was no guarantee the experimental heart would work. Bennett, who is ineligible for a human heart transplant because of his heart failure and an irregular heartbeat, said he was without other options, reports Carla K. Johnson for the Associated Press. As of Monday, Bennett was breathing on his own while still connected to a heart-lung machine to help his new heart.
When Bennett told his son that he’d opted to receive a gene-edited pig heart, “at first I didn’t believe him,” says David Bennett Jr. to the Times. “He’d been in the hospital a month or more, and I knew delirium could set in. I thought, no way, shape or form is that happening.” After seeing his dad’s successful transplant, Bennett Jr. says, “this is nothing short of a miracle.”
A family young children gather around a dinner table smiling

The heart recipient, David Bennett Sr (in white), and his family pictured in 2019. David Bennett, Jr.
Bennett’s transplant demonstrates that a heart from a genetically modified animal can function in the human body without immediate rejection. It may be months before doctors know if the heart will help Bennett long-term, but they are optimistic that the technique could be used for more life-saving transplants in the future.
Tens of thousands of Americans receive transplanted organs each year, but there is a shortage of organs for those who need them. There are over 100,000 individuals on the national transplant waiting list, and around 17 people die each day waiting for an organ. That has motivated scientists to develop animal organs that wouldn’t be rejected by the human body, and with advances in gene editing, the operation was finally possible. The landmark heart transplant comes after doctors temporarily attached a kidney from a gene-edited pig to a deceased human body last September.
A team of medical professionals responsible for the surgery posing for a photo in the OR

The eight-hour operation took place in Baltimore on Friday, at the University of Maryland Medical Center. University of Maryland School of Medicine
Bennett’s donor was a one-year-old, 240-pound pig gene-edited and bred specifically for saving his life, reports USA Today’s Karen Weintraub. Doctors opted to use a heart from a pig rather than another animal because pigs are easy to raise and their organs reach human size in just months.
To make the heart suitable for Bennett, the porcine donor had to undergo a series of genetic modifications. Four genes were deleted from the pig’s genome, including one linked to rapid organ rejection, and one to prevent the heart from continuing to grow after it was implanted. Six human genes designed to make the organ friendlier to Bennett’s immune system were also added into the genome of the donor pig.
“This is a watershed event,” David Klassen, the chief medical officer of the United Network for Organ Sharing and a transplant physician, says to the Times. “Doors are starting to open that will lead, I believe, to major changes in how we treat organ failure.”


May 21, 2021
My sister told me about this the other day and I was immediately disgusted. Whether this works or not, to me, it still seems quite literally inhumane and I just...I'm just not onboard with it.
Nov 5, 2021
Someone scared of death who would die if there were no available human hearts at the time to transplant, I would guess. I accept it is a weird concept though.

Here's something similar which is kinda gross:
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Aug 11, 2021

Article - Man given genetically modified pig heart dies
The first person in the world to get a heart transplant from a genetically-modified pig has died.
David Bennett, who had terminal heart disease, survived for two months following the surgery in the US.
But his condition began to deteriorate several days ago, his doctors in Baltimore said, and the 57-year-old died on 8 March.
Mr Bennett knew the risks attached to the surgery, acknowledging before the procedure it was "a shot in the dark".
Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center were granted a special dispensation by the US medical regulator to carry out the procedure, on the basis that Mr Bennett - who was ineligible for a human transplant - would otherwise have died.
He had already been bedridden for six weeks leading up to the surgery, attached to a machine which was keeping him alive.

Mr Bennett underwent the surgery on 7 January, and doctors say in the weeks afterwards he spent time with his family, watched the Super Bowl and spoke about wanting to get home to his dog, Lucky.
But his condition deteriorated, leaving doctors "devastated".
"He proved to be a brave and noble patient who fought all the way to the end," surgeon Bartley Griffith, who performed the transplant, said in a statement released by the hospital.
But Mr Bennett's son, David Jr, said he hoped his father's transplant would "be the beginning of hope and not the end", according to news agency AP.
"We are grateful for every innovative moment, every crazy dream, every sleepless night that went into this historic effort," he added.
BBC News graphic showing processes involved in using genetically modified pig organs in humans

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Dr Griffith said previously the surgery would bring the world "one step closer to solving the organ shortage crisis". Currently 17 people die every day in the US waiting for a transplant, with more than 100,000 reportedly on the waiting list.

The possibility of using animal organs for so-called xenotransplantation to meet the demand has long been considered, and using pig heart valves is already common.
In October 2021, surgeons in New York announced that they had successfully transplanted a pig's kidney into a person. At the time, the operation was the most advanced experiment in the field so far. However, the recipient on that occasion was brain dead with no hope of recovery.
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Analysis box by James Gallagher, health and science correspondent

The first pig-heart transplant was a landmark moment in medicine.
The biggest barrier to using organs from another species is "hyperacute rejection". The body sees the tissue as so foreign that it starts to kill the donated organ within minutes.
The hope was the 10 genetic modifications made to the pig meant its organs would be acceptable to the human body.
It was a nervous moment when the heart went in, but there was no hyperacute rejection and that monumental barrier had been cleared.

When I spoke to the surgical team one month after the operation they said there were still no signs of rejection and the donated heart was performing like a "Ferrari engine". But they warned Mr Bennett himself was still frail.
Exactly what has happened since and the precise cause of Mr Bennett's death is not clear.
The results of those investigations will determine how close we are to a future of using pigs to solve the global shortage of transplant organs.