The operation was carried out on Friday and showed for the first time that an animal heart could continue to function inside a human without immediate rejection, the institution said in a statement.
David Bennett, 57, who received the porcine heart, had been declared ineligible for a human transplant. It is now closely monitored by doctors to make sure the new organ is functioning properly.
It was either death or this transplant. I want to live. I know it’s pretty hit and miss, but it was my last optionthe Maryland resident said a day before his operation, according to the medical school.
I can’t wait to get out of bed once I’m well, continued Mr Bennett, who has spent the last few months bedridden and hooked up to a machine that kept him alive.
The United States Drugs Agency (FDA) gave the green light for the operation on New Year’s Eve.
It’s a major surgical breakthrough that brings us one step closer to a solution to organ shortage, commented Bartley Griffith, who performed the transplant.
” We are proceeding with caution, but are optimistic that this world first will provide an essential new option for patients in the future. “
The pig from which the transplanted heart comes has been genetically modified to no longer produce a type of sugar that is normally present in all cells of pigs and which causes immediate rejection of the organ.
The genetic modification was made by the company Revivicor, which also provided a pig kidney that surgeons had successfully connected to the blood vessels of a brain-dead patient in New York City in October.
The transplanted porcine heart had been stored in a machine before the operation.
The team also used an investigational new drug from Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals, in addition to standard anti-rejection drugs, to suppress the immune system and prevent the body from rejecting the organ.
Nearly 110,000 Americans are currently on an organ transplant waiting list and more than 6,000 people who need transplants die each year in the country.
Xenografts – from animal to human – are not new. Doctors have been attempting cross-species transplants since at least the 17th century, with the earliest experiments focusing on primates.
In 1984, a baboon heart was transplanted to a baby, but the little one, nicknamed
Baby fae, had only survived 20 days.
Heart valves from pigs are already widely used in humans, and their skin can be used to perform grafts on severe burns.
Pigs are ideal organ donors because of their size, rapid growth and their litters, which have many young.
In addition, the use of porcine organs is better accepted, because pigs are already used for food, explained in October to theAFP Robert Montgomery, Director of the Institute of Transplantation of NYU Langone.