NHS surgeons could be performing PIG HEART transplants in the next decade, expert says

NHS surgeons could be performing PIG HEART transplants in the next decade, expert says

NHS surgeons could be performing PIG HEART transplants in the next decade, an expert said.

This comes after the medical breakthrough where a 57-year-old man in the US had a pig heart transplanted into his body.

The surgery, as well as using other pig organs in the human body, is now "on the straight line" with experts hopeful that it will become mainstream within a decade.

Prof Gabriel Oniscu, ESOT President-Elect of the European Society of Organ Transplantation, told the Telegraph: "The unwritten joke in the field of transplantation was that xenotransplantation has always been around the corner, but it has remained around the corner.

"Now I think it is not around the corner anymore, it’s on the straight line.

“In the past, we’ve always said it will be five to 10 years [until transplantation is a reality as a treatment], but it’s never been the case.

"I think now we are certainly looking within this timespan. I’m hopeful that it will happen.”

Pig organ transplants could be mainstream in the next decade – if proven to be safe and effective, the Professor said.

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But the expert doubted that the surgery would be standard on the NHS in the next five years.

This comes after the first human patient to receive a pig heart transplant called the one-of-a-kind medical procedure a "shot in the dark" that could save his life.

A pig heart was transplanted into 57-year-old David Bennett on Friday at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

The experimental surgery — which took seven hours to complete — led doctors at the medical centre to confirm the procedure showed that a heart from a genetically modified animal can work in the human body without being rejected immediately.

Bennett said in a statement: "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."

His son David Bennett Jr. told the news outlet his dad was ineligible for a human heart transplant and this was his only option for a chance at living — despite it not being guaranteed to help.

Bennett was not eligible for a human heart transplant or heart pump because he had both heart failure and an irregular heartbeat.

On Monday, three days post-operation, doctors said Bennett was breathing on his own while being hooked up to a heart-lung machine.

Dr. Muhammad Mohiuddin, scientific director of Maryland university’s animal-to-human transplant program, said: "If this works, there will be an endless supply of these organs for patients who are suffering."

The experimental surgery comes as there's is an ongoing organ shortage crisis.


In Bennett's case, Maryland surgeons used a pig heart that went through a gene-editing process to remove a sugar in its cells that's known for organ rejection.

The surgery was allowed by the FDA under a "compassionate use" emergency authorization, as Bennett's condition was life-threatening and no other options could help save him.

"This is a truly remarkable breakthrough," Dr. Robert Montgomery said in a statement.

"As a heart transplant recipient, myself with a genetic heart disorder, I am thrilled by this news and the hope it gives to my family and other patients who will eventually be saved by this breakthrough."

Prof Oniscu said that pigs are also being looked at as sources of livers and pancreases as well as hearts. 

A spokesperson for NHS Blood and Transplant said: “This latest development makes the possibility of transplantation between animals and humans a potentially safe and ‘attainable’ future treatment option. 

“However, there is still some way to go, before transplants of this kind become an everyday reality.”

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