A successful human-to-pig heart transplant operation was carried out last Friday at the University of Maryland Medical Center in the United States.
The historical transplant operation is the result of groundbreaking research from a Muslim scientist-surgeon, Dr. Mohamad Mohiuddin. The heart is now beating generally in the body of the 57-year-old recipient, David Bennet Sr.
Doctors at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSM) said the operation was performed to save Bennett from life-threatening heart disease without specifying his illness.
In an interview released by UMSM, Dr. Mohiuddin said that this pig heart has performed very well so far and since there are no visible signs of rejection insight.
According to Dr. Bartley Griffith, director of the cardiac transplant programme at the medical centre, who performed the operation, the heart functions properly, creating the pulse and pressure.
The first successful transplant of a pig’s heart into a human being is expected to be a breakthrough that could lead to new supplies of animal organs for transplant into human patients in the future.
Dr. Mohiuddin, director of the university’s xenotransplant programme, is one of the world’s leading experts in animal organ transplantation, a new technique known as xenotransplant or xenografting.
Dr. Mohiuddin explained that his team had modified ten genes in this pig heart, knocking out four genes. Three of them are responsible for producing antibodies that cause rejection, and one gene was removed was functioned initially to control the growth of pig and its organs.
He added that hundreds of thousands of people worldwide needed organs, but unfortunately, not all may qualify for a transplant. If xenografts were readily available and allowed to be placed in these patients, then all could receive the hearts or other organs from these modified pigs, which could help save their lives.
Calling it a “game-changer,” Dr. Mohuddin believes that if this transplant is successful, they will now have all these organs readily available.
In 1989, Dr. Mohiuddin completed his MBBS from Dow Medical College, Karachi, then his residency at Karachi Civil Hospital from 1990 to 1991.
He did his fellowships in transplant biology and immunology at the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, between 1991 and 1993.