According to his doctors, the patient in whom a pig heart has been implanted for the first time worldwide is making good progress.
“He’s doing better than we expected,” Muhammad Mohiuddin, the licensed surgeon at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, said in a video the university hospital distributed Thursday. “His heart is fine, and there are no signs of rejection.”
The genetically modified organ was implanted in the 57-year-old man in early January, a milestone in the field of organ transplantation. The operation lasted eight hours, according to American media. The man, who suffered from life-threatening heart disease, was not eligible for a donor’s heart and the animal organ was the only alternative that could save him from death. After the operation, the patient was on a heart-lung machine for several days.
The man is “remarkably bright,” surgeon Bartley Griffith said. “When I come to the window of his room, he beckons me and asks when he can go home.” The patient receives physical therapy. “We need to make his legs strong enough so they can carry him again. That is not yet possible.”
Mohiuddin said it would be long before the man was allowed to leave the hospital. “We look at it day by day. We are happy every day when we don’t see any rejection symptoms or other problems.”
So-called xenotransplantation has been studied since the 1980s. Pigs are particularly suitable as donors because their metabolism is very similar to humans’.