(ORDO NEWS) — 58-year-old Lawrence Faucett became the second person in the world to receive a genetically modified pig heart.
Transplantation of animal organs into humans, also known as xenotransplantation, is a revolutionary area of medical research. Given the chronic shortage of human donor organs, this method could be a lifesaver for many patients.
Both pig heart transplants were performed by experts from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The first heart transplant patient last year died two months after the operation due to “multiple factors, including his poor health” before the operation, university officials explained.
For Lawrence Faucett, xenotransplantation was the last hope. He was unable to receive a human heart donor due to pre-existing vascular disease and complications related to internal bleeding.
“My only remaining real hope is to use a pig heart, a xenograft,” Faucette said before the procedure. “At least now I have hope and I have a chance.”
After surgery, Faucette was able to breathe on his own and the new heart functioned well “without any assistance from assistive devices.” He also took regular anti-rejection medications and received a new antibody therapy to prevent his body from damaging or rejecting the new organ.
However, xenotransplantation remains challenging due to the risk of the patient’s immune system attacking the foreign organ. Scientists are aiming to solve this problem by using organs from genetically modified pigs, making the method reliable and more accessible to more people.
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