Pig-to-human heart transplant possible within 2 years: Expert

While the first patient lost his life, the pig-to-human heart transplant would be successfully performed within two years, says Muhammed Mansur Muhiddin, the head of the team that performed the first operation in the United States.

“When transplanting from pigs, we modified some genes and made them suitable for humans. Patients must primarily be patients who are ‘unfit for human transplants,’ in other words, those who have no other treatment options and do not have enough time to wait for a suitable heart,” Muhiddin told daily Hürriyet at the 17th Congress of Cardiovascular Surgery held in the southern province of Antalya.

“We lost our first patient, David Bennett, but our hopes for a successful transplant were dashed. Bennett’s condition was very serious, and we had to stop some medications due to other comorbidities,” he said.

Noting he receives dozens of emails from various parts of the world every day, he said, “People want to volunteer for this operation. This time, we will choose a patient whose condition is not as severe as Bennett’s.”

“We’ve transplanted from pigs to baboons before as they are the closest animals to humans,” he said. “But we will carry out our next transplant from pigs again because now we have data on this.”

Born in Pakistan, Muhiddin completed his minor in Transplantation Biology at the University of Pennsylvania in the U.S. after his surgical training in Karachi.

The expert, who was the director of the team that performed the first pig-to-human heart transplant in the world on Jan. 7, is still the director of the University of Maryland’s Cardiac Xenotransplantation Program.

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