A group of scientists has successfully transplanted modified pigs’ hearts into two recently deceased individuals connected to ventilators. Soon after the implantation, the hearts functioned normally, with no signs of rejection during the three-day experiments in June and July, said the researchers at a news conference as quoted by news agency Reuters.
“The world is routinely performing this type of surgery in living patients to solve the chronic shortage of organ donations. The first step of it has been achieved and we are about to the next step,” said the scientists who conducted the transplant.
The surgeries, known as xenotransplants, were performed on June 16 and July 6 at Tisch Hospital in New York University Langone. Nader Moazmi, surgical director of heart transplants at the NYU Langone Transplant Institute, led the investigational procedures using hearts obtained from an establishment hundreds of miles away. The two recipients weren’t able to be organ donors, however, they were still able to participate in a whole-body donation for such a kind of research.
Xenotransplants, the surgeries that are the next big step in the field of animal-to-human transplants could help us create a future where organ supplies aren’t gulfed with shortages. The transplant trial followed the death two months ago of a 57-year-old man with terminal heart disease at the University of Maryland who became the first person to receive a genetically modified pig heart. However, the reasons for the failure of his new heart are still unclear.
Similarly last year, NYU researchers also transplanted pig kidneys into two brain-dead recipients. For now, they believe xenotransplantation is safer in brain-dead recipients than in living patients and also more informative because biopsies can be done more often.