An animal organ in man: a solution to the shortage of donors or a utopia?
Professor of transplant surgery Ian Alwyn of LUMC (Leiden) also says it’s too early to make specific statements. “I think it goes really fast if I’m honest. Last year I had a pig kidney transplant on a brain-dead patient. That was twice as successful. But I haven’t seen definitive results yet.”
“But the fact that this transplant was done is really a step forward. It’s not about a brain-dead patient now, for example. But before you can really talk about short-term success, you have to be at least a month plus.”
Huge shortage of members
With a transplant, the “new” organ is almost always rejected, and thus the person who received the organ must take anti-rejection medications for the rest of their life. In the case of an animal organ, the rejection is more severe and the risks of complications are high.
But according to Professor Ebels, this is absolutely no reason to stop transplanting animal organs. exactly the contrary. “The fact that such trials are being conducted now has to do with the huge shortage of human donor organs. And that’s why it’s happening.”
Not just the future
The operation was performed in the United States by transplant surgeon Bartley Griffith. He is optimistic about organ transplantation, transplanting from animals to humans. “It has always been said that external organ transplantation will remain a thing of the future, but now I can say it is a thing of the present.”
Griffiths says David Bennett was too weak to qualify for a human heart. “He told me he didn’t want to die and I said a pig’s heart could be an option.” Bennett then approved the transplant, saying that if something went wrong, it would help science advance.
The transplant surgeon said Bennett has regained consciousness and has already spoken to his doctors. “The first critical phase is now over. We hope he continues to recover well.” Bennett, 57, has a long way to go, according to his doctors.
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