Second ‘pig heart’ recipient in US dies six weeks after procedure | World News - Hindustan Times
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Second ‘pig heart’ recipient in US dies six weeks after procedure

By | Edited by Aryan Prakash
Nov 01, 2023 01:55 PM IST

Lawrence Faucette, 58, received a genetically modified pig heart on September 20 due to ineligibility for traditional transplant.

An American man who became the second person to undergo a "pig heart transplant" passed away on Monday, six weeks after the experimental procedure, Associated Press reported. The University of Maryland School of Medicine revealed that the transplanted heart initially appeared healthy for the first month but began displaying signs of rejection in recent days.

In this photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Lawrence Faucette sits with wife, Ann, in the school's hospital in Baltimore, Md., in September 2023, before receiving a pig heart transplant. Two days after the transplant, Lawrence was cracking jokes and able to sit in a chair, doctors said Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. (via AP)
In this photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Lawrence Faucette sits with wife, Ann, in the school's hospital in Baltimore, Md., in September 2023, before receiving a pig heart transplant. Two days after the transplant, Lawrence was cracking jokes and able to sit in a chair, doctors said Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. (via AP)

Lawrence Faucette, 58, was suffering from heart failure and was not eligible for a conventional heart transplant when he received the genetically modified pig heart on September 20. The report quoted Faucette's wife, Ann, saying, "Knew his time with us was short and this was his last chance to do for others. He never imagined he would survive as long as he did."

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The Maryland medical team previously conducted the world's first transplant of a genetically modified pig heart into another terminally ill patient last year. David Bennett, the recipient of the first pig heart, survived for two months before the heart failed for reasons that remain unclear, although later, signs of a pig virus were discovered inside the organ. Lessons learned from the initial experiment led to improvements, including more rigorous virus testing, before the second attempt.

Why did Faucette opt for ‘pig heart transplant’?

Faucette, a Navy veteran and a father of two residing in Frederick, Maryland, was initially denied a traditional heart transplant due to underlying health issues when he sought treatment at the Maryland hospital. He had run out of options and expressed a desire to spend more time with his family. In mid-October, the hospital reported that Faucette had made progress and even shared video footage of him undergoing intensive physical therapy to regain the strength necessary for walking.

Xenotransplants

As per the Associated Press report, the head of cardiac xenotransplantation at the Maryland hospital mentioned that they intend to investigate the rejection of the pig heart while also advancing their studies on pig organs.

There is optimism among many scientists that xenotransplants, which involve using animal organs for human transplantation, could eventually address the critical shortage of human organ donations. In the United States, over 100,000 individuals are on the waiting list for transplants, primarily for kidneys, and regrettably, many of them may not survive the wait.

Numerous scientific teams have conducted experiments involving pig hearts and kidneys in both monkeys and human bodies donated for research purposes. Their objective is to accumulate sufficient data that may pave the way for formal xenotransplant studies to gain approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

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