HYDERABAD: The first successful pig-to-human heart transplant surgery performed at Maryland University School of Medicine in the US on a 57-year-old man is a major milestone in medical science worth celebrating, preserving and nurturing, said Dr Sandeep Attawar, chair and programme director, KIMS Heart and Lung Transplant Institute of KIMS Hospitals.
According to the information he has last received, the heart of the patient is now beating normally without any assistance. He said that using hygienically bred and genetically modified pigs for transplant is the result of years of research which will emerge as a shining cornerstone, paving the way for the future of transplant surgeries, in an era of organ shortage.
“Lab modified, multiple gene knock-out, PERV free (porcine retrovirus) piglets with human trans gene modifications can be reared. By using special breeding and feeding methods, we can ensure the elimination of exogenous viruses, while endogenous PERV are eliminated utilising CRISPR -cas 9 gene-editing technology and nuclear editing of the embryo,” he told Express.
He said that though scientists could develop 3-D printed hearts which are fully bio-compatible and could be the ideal solution, this work-in progress has been scientifically proven to be a viable alternative. As of now, it cannot be performed on a large-scale, given the enormous cost and time it would take to build one fully functional organ, he said.
Till then, he feels that this intriguing possibility would help preserve the essence of human life. Dr Attawar has done 332 organ transplants including 203 lung transplants, 92 heart transplants and 37 lung and heart transplants.