Pig to human heart transplant opens new possibilities, say doctors
Hyderabad, Jan 19: The world of scientists, doctors, and all those associated with the medical profession are excited about the possibilities to emerge from the first pig to human heart transplant procedure, details of which were announced by the University of Marlyland School of Medicine last week.
According to doctors and transplant surgeons working in India, this breakthrough in medical science will open a treasure trove of vital information, which could be of use to save millions of lives in the years ahead.
According to reports emerging from the United States, the heart is now beating normally in the body of a 57-year-old recipient. This procedure was successfully performed by Dr Mohammad Mohiuddin and Dr Bartley Griffith, both associated with the University of Maryland, Baltimore, along with a large team of experts associated with various dimensions of transplant surgery.
Commenting on the procedure, Hemanth Kaukuntla, cardiothoracic surgeon, Century Hospital, Hyderabad, said that medical sciences is a fast-developing space, and this successful pig to human heart transplant procedure will remain a major milestone which would define the future of healthcare.
"Millions of end-stage or terminally ill patients die each year due to non-availability of heart and other vital organs for transplant. This research and development will open numerous possibilities to explore, and we as doctors are eagerly looking forward to study the information to come out of Maryland," he said.
According to Sandeep Attawar, Chair & Programme Director, KIMS Heart & Lung Transplant Institute, with one organ getting damaged, quality of human life starts deteriorating and unless it is repaired fully or replaced, there is a high possibility of it leading to damage of other organs. Hence, replacing the damaged organs is very important.
"Because medical science cannot retrieve the required number of organs from dead human sources, it is important we explore alternate sources for the same," said Sandeep who has done a total of 332 organ transplants including 203 lung transplants, 92 heart transplants and 37 lung and heart transplants together.
"Each year, many terminally ill patients die due to ailment to heart or lungs or liver or kidneys or pancreas etc. And non-availability of an organ to be transplanted into these end-stage patients result in certain death. At some stage science might offer solutions in the form of artificial-yet-functional organs suited to be transplanted into sick patients. But, before medical science reaches that stage, scientists and doctors will have to continue with their research on finding the best-suited solution to save lives of humans," said Rajeev Garg, senior consultant cardiologist, Aware Gleneagles Global Hospital.
Hariram V, senior consultant interventional cardiologist, SLG Hospitals, believes that the procedure will open new possibilities.
"Most times, compatibility is a major challenge when it comes to transplanting an organ from a live or cadaver source into a recipient. By cultivating a heart suitable to humans, inside a pig, scientists have opened scope to modify hearts to suit the recipient to the most natural stage. More research and development will be witnessed in this field and am confident that by closely monitoring David Bennet Sr., doctors will get many insights which will help take this discovery to the next stage," he said.
According to available numbers, at least 50,000 new individuals in the United States require a healthy heart to be transplanted into them. And from the conventional means of brain-dead / cadaver source, only 4000 of them find a heart to be transplanted. Hence, the number of people in need of a heart transplant to survive is rising each year. In India, this number could be at least five or six times higher, and availability of hearts for transplant is about 1,000 per year.