Heart transplant

Animal virus found in man who received pig heart transplant

A Maryland man, David Bennett, received a heart transplant from a genetically modified pig but suffered numerous complications before he died.

Source: Inside Edition/Youtube

Although there were no reported signs of rejection of the genetically modified heart by the patient, traces of a virus known to infect pigs called porcine cytomegalovirus have been found in humans. The 57-year-old was reportedly extremely ill before the operation and survived two months after the transplant. The New York Times reported that according to the surgeon, it is the first of its kind.

Viruses are one of the reasons many oppose animal-to-human transplants. Experts believe that modified animal organs can introduce harmful new pathogens into the human population. Although the patient showed no signs of infection with the virus, it was found in his DNA, which they say could have caused his health to decline after the transplant.

Dr. Bartley Griffith of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, who performed the transplant, told The New York Times in an interview that while they are extremely saddened by the loss of the patient, they are not deterring them. achieve their goal of using animals. organs to save lives.

“It doesn’t really scare us as to the future of the field, unless for some reason this incident is interpreted as a complete failure,” Dr Griffith said. “It’s just a learning point. Knowing it was there, we can probably avoid it in the future.

Source: CGTN America/Youtube

The pig’s heart has been genetically modified so that the organs are not rejected by the human body. The pork was provided by Revivicor, a regenerative medicine company. According to the University, the pig has been screened several times for the virus, however, the test can only detect infections that are present. The infection was later discovered in the pig’s spleen.

20 days after the transplant the virus was found, but Dr Griffith said the levels were so low he thought it was a lab error. Nearly 40 days after surgery, the patient fell ill and tests showed a sharp increase in viral DNA levels.

“So we started to think that the virus that showed up very early on day 20 as a simple flicker started to build over time, and that might be the actor – that might have been the actor – who started all of this,” Dr. Griffith told other transplant scientists at the meeting.

Only five days later, his health deteriorated and antiviral drugs and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) did not help. The heart filled with fluid, doubled in size and finally stopped working. The patient was put on a heart-lung machine and later died.

Transplants using donor animals, also called xenotransplantations, are not a recent practice. Xenotransplantation carries enormous risk to humans and supports animals being tested and raised in unnatural environments. Before scientists are allowed to use animal organs for humans, many tests must be performed on animals that cannot give consent.

“Thousands of monkeys, chimpanzees and baboons have been experimented on and killed during this cross-species transplantation research,” says PBS. Banning animal testing in medicine is much more difficult to stop due to the lack of funds to research other means.

Is xenotransplantation ethical? Check out this article for more: A man with a genetically modified pig’s heart dies. Was the experiment ethical?

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