One of the greatest scientific advancements happened this past weekend.
Dave Bennett, a 57-year-old man, received a heart transplant that was synthetically made from pig tissue.
According to reports, the pig had been genetically altered in order to make its organs and tissues safe to use for transplants. Mr. Bennett had the transplant surgery Friday, and he is recovering well.
This “experimental” procedure is groundbreaking. Hundreds of thousands of people per year need some form of organ transplant, but many will never receive one. Even if everyone in the world checked the “organ donor” box on their driver’s licenses, we wouldn’t have enough organs. That’s how necessary this scientific finding is. This transplant operation gives hope to people who just entered the transplant list. It can also keep hope alive for those who have been waiting years for organ matches.
Right now, the most common types of organ transplants are kidney transplants, heart transplants, liver transplants, and pancreas transplants. If a person donates skin, tendons, or ligaments, they can reach up to 75 different people. There’s no need to worry, though — if you’re dying, healthcare workers will only harvest your organs if they can’t save your life. Then they’ll determine which organs they can harvest for transplants.
The synthetic pig heart operation can also offer a sense of relief to parents whose children have congenital heart defect diagnoses.
Assuming Mr. Bennett makes a full recovery and this procedure eventually becomes widespread, this operation could give children with heart defects a better quality of life.
The pig heart procedure may also allow family members to have more time to say goodbye to dying relatives. When an organ donor passes, medical professionals typically remove their organs as soon as possible so that they will be available. Organs also require certain settings to keep them usable post-mortem, which gives families barely any time to stand by their dying friends or family members. This procedure relies on synthetic organs, so it could bypass the need for immediate organ removal.
I think it’s safe to say that within the healthcare realm, this synthetic pig heart procedure was one small step for man and one giant step for mankind! Hopefully, this procedure will become more widespread and allow people to get the organs they desperately need.