University of Maryland’s successful pig-to-human-heart transplant

Source- UMSOM Public Affairs/YouTube

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 12 January 2022: In a breakthrough surgery a team at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine, on new year’s eve (31 December 2021) transplanted a genetically modified Porcine heart (Pig heart)into a 57-year-old patient with terminal heart disease. He was doing well three days later. This was the only option the patient had.

The historic surgery was conducted by the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) faculty at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), together known as the University of Maryland Medicine.

“This organ transplant demonstrated for the first time that a genetically-modified animal heart can function like a human heart without immediate rejection by the body. The patient, David Bennett, a Maryland resident, is being carefully monitored over the next days and weeks to determine whether the transplant provides lifesaving benefits. He had been deemed ineligible for a conventional heart transplant at UMMC as well as at several other leading transplant centers that reviewed his medical records.


“It was either die or do this transplant. I want to live. I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice,” said Mr. Bennett, the patient, a day before the surgery was conducted. He had been hospitalized and bedridden for the past few months. “I look forward to getting out of bed after I recover.”, reports the

Emergency authorization for the historical surgery was granted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“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 Bartley P. Griffith, MD, who surgically transplanted the pig heart into the patient. Dr. Griffith is 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.”

Source- UMSOM Public Affairs/YouTube

Considered one of the world’s foremost experts on transplanting animal organs, known as xenotransplantation, Muhammad M. Mohiuddin, MD, Professor of Surgery at UMSOM, joined the UMSOM faculty five years ago and established the Cardiac Xenotransplantation Program with Dr. Griffith. Dr. Mohiuddin serves as the program’s Scientific/Program Director and Dr. Griffith as its Clinical Director.

“This is the culmination of years of highly complicated research to hone this technique in animals with survival times that have reached beyond nine months. The FDA used our data and data on the experimental pig to authorize the transplant in an end-stage heart disease patient who had no other treatment options,” said Dr. Mohiuddin. “The successful procedure provided valuable information to help the medical community improve this potentially life-saving method in future patients.”

Three genes—responsible for rapid antibody-mediated rejection of pig organs by humans—were “knocked out” in the donor pig. Six human genes responsible for immune acceptance of the pig heart were inserted into the genome. Lastly, one additional gene in the pig was knocked out to prevent excessive growth of the pig heart tissue, which totaled 10 unique gene edits made in the donor pig.

It took five years to develop the surgical technique for the transplantation of pig hearts into non-human primates. Dr. Mohiuddin’s xenotransplant research experience spans over 30 years during which time he demonstrated in peer-reviewed research that genetically-modified pig’s hearts can function when placed in the abdomen for as long as three years. Success was dependent on the right combination of genetic modifications to the experimental donor pig UHeart™ and anti-rejection drugs, including some experimental compounds.

The Bennett family group pix is from 2019. Left to right in the back row: David Bennett Jr, David Bennett, Nicole (Bennett) McCray, Sawyer Bennett, Kristi Bennett.

SOURCE- All text, video & photo material for this report is courtesy


Neeraj Nanda

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