The process of transplanting a pig’s heart into a human body, which was announced this week in the United States, represents an important scientific progress, but it is still too early to speculate on its ability to turn the equation in this field, according to experts in France and Britain.
French anesthetist Francois Kerbaul, who monitors the field of transplantation at the Agency for Biomedicine, the French body responsible for this sector, said that this operation is a “heroic feat.”
The University of Maryland, USA, announced Monday, that surgeons succeeded in transplanting a pig’s heart into a human body.
The operation was conducted on Friday and showed for the first time that the heart of an animal can continue to function inside a person without immediate rejection, and the world has previously witnessed experiments on transplanting animal organs into a human body, but patients were dying instantly.
A key aspect of the American process is that the pig from which the transplanted organ was extracted was a genetically modified animal, particularly to remove proteins that could cause the immediate rejection of a non-human organ.
That rejection did not happen, but the surgeon who performed the transplant, Bartley Griffiths, asked: Could this scientific breakthrough offer a “solution to organ deficiency” in the coming years?
The researchers gather that it’s too early to speculate.
“This is a first step, but it is likely that the next few weeks or months will be critical for us to determine the future prospects in this area,” Kerbaul said.
It is this period of time that will make it possible to know the acceptance of the transplanted organ in the patient’s body, a man in his fifties who was not medically qualified to receive a human heart.
There are still many ambiguities surrounding this process, of course, the pig was chosen to be used in this process, because its heart is relatively close to the human heart.
However, will the animal’s heart be able to function in the human body, a bipedal creature that is accustomed to an upright position, while the animal lives on all fours, which means less stress to the heart?
Cardiac surgeon Francis Wells of the British Science Media Center said that the most important stage in this path is on the “medium and long term.”
“At the moment, we still do not have information in this regard, and we will closely monitor how the situation of this brave patient develops,” he added.
Wells said it was “perhaps premature to announce the operation to the whole world.”