The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) announced the first successful transplant of a genetically modified pig’s heart into a human patient took place Jan. 9, 2022. The innovative procedure may pave the way to eliminating the current heart transplant wait lists. The cardiologists who developed this procedure believe in the near future, an unlimited number of pig hearts could be used to allow heart transplants in any patients who need them on demand, and regardless of the medical requirements that currently limit access to human heart transplants.
Cardiac surgeons Muhammad M. Mohiuddin, M.D., scientific and program director, Cardiac Xenotransplantation Program, University of Maryland, and Bartley P. Griffith, M.D., M.D., explain how the procedure and technology works. They surgically transplanted a pig heart into the human patient after the patient had no options left and did not qualify for the heart transplant list. The patient was surviving in the hospital only through the use of an ECMO heart-lung machine.
The patient, 57-year-old Maryland resident David Bennett, was granted a FDA emergency authorization for the surgery on New Year’s Eve through its expanded access (compassionate use) provision. It is used when an experimental medical product, in this case the genetically-modified pig’s heart, is the only option available for a patient faced with end-stage heart failure, a serious or life-threatening medical condition. The authorization to proceed was granted in the hope of saving the patient’s life.
“This was a breakthrough surgery and brings us one step closer to solving the organ shortage crisis. There are simply not enough donor human hearts available to meet the long list of potential recipients,” said Griffith, the Thomas E. and Alice Marie Hales Distinguished Professor in Transplant Surgery at UMSOM. “We are proceeding cautiously, but we are also optimistic that this first-in-the-world surgery will provide an important new option for patients in the future.”
This video includes video footage from the historic procedure and interviews with Griffith, Mohiuddin and other officials at University of Maryland Medical Center and the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Read more in the article First Human Receives a Pig Heart Transplant.
Transplanting Pig Hearts Into Humans One Step Closer