It’s already a feat, summarized Wednesday the French anesthesiologist François Kerbaul, who follows the field of transplants within the Biomedicine Agency, the French organization responsible for the sector.
The American University of Maryland announced on Monday that surgeons had successfully transplanted a pig’s heart into a human patient.
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. Others
xenografts had been attempted in the past, but the patients died immediately.
One aspect was essential in the American operation: the donor pig was a genetically modified animal, in particular to eliminate proteins which could cause the immediate rejection of a non-human organ.
This did not take place. But can this breakthrough offer in the years to come
a solution to organ shortage, as Bartley Griffith, the surgeon who performed the transplant, put it?
It is far too early to tell, the researchers unanimously warn.
This is a first step, but probably the next few weeks or months will be crucial to give us some perspective., explained Mr. Kerbaul.
It is this time interval that will make it possible to really know how far the transplanted organ is accepted by the body of the patient, a fifty-something who was in any case not medically admissible to receive a human heart.
There are a lot of uncertainties. Of course, if the pig was chosen as an animal, it is because its heart is relatively close to man.
But, will it be able to function in a bipedal being, accustomed to the vertical station, while the original animal remained on all fours and therefore required less effort from its heart?
It’s the medium and long term that matters most, summarized the cardiac surgeon Francis Wells at the British organization Science Media Center.
For the moment, we have no information on this yet and we will carefully monitor how this very courageous patient is evolving., he added.
Perhaps it was far too early to make such an announcement to the world.