For the past three days, a Maryland man has been living with a pig heart pulsing within his chest. This is the first time a gene-edited pig has been utilized as an organ donor, as stated in the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Dave Bennett, 57, decided to be the first to undergo the experimental procedure in the hopes of returning to his Maryland duplex and his pet dog, Lucky. Doctors replaced his heart with one from a one-year-old, 240-pound pig that had been gene-edited and raised expressly for this reason during the nine-hour procedure.

US surgeons successful in pig-to-human heart transplant

Bennett is no longer on a ventilator and is breathing on his own. However, he is still hooked up to an ECMO machine that handles roughly half of the work of pumping blood throughout his body. Doctors intend to wean him off of the medication gradually.

For decades, scientists have been trying to figure out how to save human lives using animal organs. More than 100,000 patients are waiting for organ transplants and are experiencing awful symptoms and side effects as a result.

Pigs have organs that are comparable to those seen in humans. The wait would be over if those organs could be utilized in transplants. People who would never be considered transplant candidates - who would never make it onto those transplant waiting lists - may look forward to family meals, playing with their children or grandchildren, and just getting back to enjoying their lives, according to USA Today.

Because there is a severe scarcity of human organs available for transplant, scientists are attempting to find a way to use animal organs instead. As per United Network for Organ Sharing, which oversees the country's transplant system, the United States had slightly more than 3,800 heart transplants last year, a new high.

However, previous attempts at such transplants - known as xenotransplantation - have failed, owing to the body's fast rejection of the animal organ. In 1984, a dying newborn named Baby Fae survived for 21 days with a baboon heart.

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People in need of heart transplant become hopeful

The Maryland doctors utilized a heart from a pig that had been gene-edited to eliminate a substance in its cells that causes organ rejection to occur so swiftly. Klassen stressed, however, that this is just the first stage in assessing if xenotransplantation would work this time.

The surgery was approved by the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees xenotransplantation research, under a "compassionate use" emergency authorization, which is available when a patient with a life-threatening condition has no other options, as per CBS News.

Every year, more than 6,000 individuals in the United States die while waiting to be matched with an organ donor and transported for surgery. Since the instance of Stephanie Fae Beauclair, a newborn who died a month after getting a baboon heart to correct a serious heart ailment, doctors have attempted "xenotransplants" of animal organs into human bodies although attempts involving full bodies have typically failed.

Pig heart valves, comparable to human heart valves, have been successfully implanted. Three genes in the pig's DNA that would lead a human body to reject the organ were edited and removed, while six human genes that would cause the heart to be accepted were added.

The heart was housed in a special cage that provided it with nourishment and hormones after it was taken. Researchers had previously used pig hearts in baboons and were able to maintain them alive for months at a time, allowing them to figure out which genes were important in avoiding organ rejection, Independent reported.

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