This photo released by the University of Maryland School of Medicine shows surgeons transplanting a heart from a genetically modified pig to a patient in Baltimore, Maryland, on Jan. 7, 2022. This week, the medical school performed a similar procedure on another patient. (AFP)

US Experts Carry Out Second Pig-to-Human Heart Transplant

Agence France-Presse

WASHINGTON —  A 58-year-old man this week became the world’s second patient to receive a transplant of a genetically modified pig heart, the latest milestone in a growing field of medical research.

Transplanting animal organs into humans, called xenotransplantation, could offer a solution to the chronic shortage of human organ donations. More than 100,000 Americans are currently on waiting lists for organ transplants.

Both heart procedures were carried out by experts from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, with the first patient dying two months after his transplant last year due to “a multitude of factors including his poor state of health” prior to the operation, the university said in a statement Friday.

‘Now I have hope’

The latest operation took place Wednesday with patient Lawrence Faucette. He was ineligible for a donated human heart due to pre-existing vascular disease and internal bleeding complications.

Without the experimental transplant, the father of two and Navy veteran was facing near-certain heart failure.

“My only real hope left is to go with the pig heart, the xenotransplant,” Faucette was quoted as saying prior to the procedure. “At least now I have hope, and I have a chance.”

Following the transplant, Faucette was breathing on his own and the new heart was functioning well “without any assistance from supportive devices,” the university said.

He was taking conventional anti-rejection drugs as well as receiving a new antibody therapy to prevent his body from damaging or rejecting the new organ.

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