Pig hearts could be used in human surgery in 2 years, German surgeon says
Pig-to-human heart transplants soon available in Germany
Heart surgeons at a hospital in Munich have said they believe heart surgery using pigs’ hearts to replace humans’ will be feasible within the next two years.
“We are in the end stages of research,” heart surgeon and leader of the University Hospital’s research team, Bruno Reichart, said speaking to ntv. Using genetically modified pigs from New Zealand, the research team has successfully experimented with every part of the procedure. Though, according to Reichart, a number of fundamentals are still in development. “That’s what we’re still working on,” the specialist added.
The animals which are being experimented with are only allowed to grow to between 70 and 90 kilograms before their hearts become too big for the human body. Reichert says that the baboons that his teams are currently experimenting with should survive for a year following the transplant before the first human transplant is carried out.
Maryland doctor successfully transplanted pig heart
The 80-year-old Reichart and his team are basing their experiments on a successful pig-to-human heart transplant that was conducted by a surgeon in Maryland last year - the first of its kind.
In January 2022, doctors at a university medical centre transplanted a pig’s heart into 57-year-old handyman David Bennett as a medical last resort. Bennet survived for two months following the treatment. A dire deficit of human organ donations in the US is what led the doctors to take a chance and see if the procedure would be successful.
For the past seven months, the research group in Munich have transplanted pig hearts into baboons who then lived for seven months. But Reichart wants to make sure that everything goes smoothly before the first human transplant in Europe. “I’m already certain that it will go better than in Maryland,” Riechart added.
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