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Surgeons Successfully Transplant Pig Hearts Into Dead Humans

The Daily Beast 7/12/2022 Maddie Bender
Joe Carrotta for NYU Langone Health © Provided by The Daily Beast Joe Carrotta for NYU Langone Health

NYU Langone Health announced today that its surgeons successfully transplanted two genetically modified pig hearts into cadavers, moving researchers one step closer to performing xenotransplants—organ transplants between two different species—regularly in living patients.

The two surgeries took place in June and early July, and were performed on “​​recently deceased donors maintained on ventilator support,” according to a press release. Following multi-hour transplant surgeries, a team led by NYU Transplant Institute heart surgeon Nader Moazami monitored the organ’s function for three days.

“Our goal is to integrate the practices used in a typical, everyday heart transplant, only with a nonhuman organ that will function normally without additional aid from untested devices or medicines,” Moazami said in the press release. “We seek to confirm that clinical trials can move ahead using this new supply of organs with the tried-and-true transplant practices we have perfected at the NYU Langone Transplant Institute.”

Importantly, these experiments do not mark the first successful xenotransplantation of a heart from a pig to a human. University of Maryland Medical Center surgeons transplanted a genetically engineered pig heart to a living patient in January, but the recipient died two months later from heart failure. Specialists pointed to evidence that the tissue had carried a pig virus—in the newest trials undertaken by NYU, the transplanted pig hearts were screened for at least one porcine virus.


Video: Testing pig heart transplants in donated bodies (Associated Press)

More than 100,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for organ transplants, due to a long standing shortage of donors.

The operating room where the genetically modified pig heart is transplanted in a recently deceased donor at NYU Langone Health on Wednesday, July 6, 2022 in New York, NY. Joe Carrotta for NYU Langone Health © Provided by The Daily Beast The operating room where the genetically modified pig heart is transplanted in a recently deceased donor at NYU Langone Health on Wednesday, July 6, 2022 in New York, NY. Joe Carrotta for NYU Langone Health

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