Innovation in medicine is made of great amazing achievements, achieved in the most unexpected moments with the complicity of adventurous patients. After the first transplant of a pig kidney into a human being, a hospital in Maryland was the first transplant of a pig heart into a human being!
Let us be clear that this important goal will not allow experts to define how ‘always valid’ this solution, indeed it was a real desperate attempt to save the life of the patient. 57-year-old David Bennett, in fact, was not suitable for any human heart transplant and would have died if it had not been for this experiment. At the University of Maryland School of Medicine he stated that it was a matter of dying or doing this transplant, a real hazard but also the last choice available to him.
The previous xeno-transplants of this kind have failed, unfortunately: in 1984 a newborn lived only 21 days with a heart of a baboon. As you may have noticed, however, it is almost 40 years ago, a different animal and a much smaller and weaker patient. The choice of pig in place of baboon was crucial and the genetic modification applied by scientists to remove sugar responsible for potential organ discards should also be considered.
After that, the transplant took place and Bennett got out of this gamble. It is a matter of the first transplant of a pig’s heart into a human being in history, a sensational step forward for medicine. Moreover, in the United States and beyond – there is a huge shortage of human organs donated for transplantation and the search for solutions like this is essential to understand how much you can push to help all those who need it as soon as possible. Bennett himself was in this situation and, although he is aware of his special status in the unknown, he also knows that he is now part of the history of medicine and is ready to accept any final outcome.
Another important milestone was the first remote surgery with 5G.