The pig for the heart transplant was raised for just such a procedure by Revivicor, a regenerative medicine company based in Blacksburg, Va.
The New York Times reported that the pig had 10 genetic modifications to make the heart acceptable to a human. Some of the modifications are designed to keep the heart from growing after transplant and to make the organ more tolerable to the human immune system, The Times said.
Last Friday, the surgical team removed the pig’s heart and placed it into a machine that preserved it until surgery. The team also used a new drug made by Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals to keep the human body from rejecting the pig’s heart, the medical school said.
Bennett is being watched closely at the hospital. He’s still connected to the heart-lung bypass machine that kept him alive before the transplant, but the new heart is functioning, The Times said. Doctors said he should be taken off the bypass machine on Tuesday.
“This is a watershed event,” David Klassen, M.D., the chief medical officer of the United Network for Organ Sharing, told The Times. “Doors are starting to open that will lead, I believe, to major changes in how we treat organ failure.”