Pig hearts for people – level 3

02-03-2023 07:00

A year ago, David Bennett was the first to get a genetically modified pig’s heart. The procedure was considered an early success with no rejection; however, Bennett’s heart was swelling and failing. He died 60 days after the surgery.

Doctors saw the activation of a pig virus that didn’t infect the man, but it certainly infected the heart. Since the surgery, experts have developed new, more sensitive tests, because the initial ones missed the virus in the donor pig’s heart. Experts have also learned more about the body’s immune response in Bennett’s case, and with a little adjustment on the immune suppression and a less sick patient, the surgery might have been a success. Scientists are also studying monkeys with pig heart transplants to learn about how long immune suppressing drugs would be needed to prevent longer-term rejection.

Last year, more than 5,000 patients in the United States were added to the heart transplant waiting list. In February 2023, the numbers are already nearly 40% of last year’s figures.

Difficult words: initial (existing at the beginning), immune suppression (a reduction of the activation of the immune system that prevents rejection of a transplant).

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What happened to David Bennett's genetically modified pig's heart?


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