Genetically Modified Pig Heart Transplant | Episode 097

Updated: Mar 9

Episode summary introduction:

Pigs are no stranger to medicine. We have used pig within human medicine for years, like with heart valve replacements. Xenotransplantation, which is the transplant of animal organs into humans, has been on the horizon for a while, and with the advances in science, like the CRISPR-Cas 9 genome editing tool, things are moving along quickly.

Topic 1:

On January 7th the first ever pig-to-human heart transplant was done in the U.S. at the University of Maryland Medicine.

Topic 2:

It is prudent to note that the heart used was genetically modified. I say this because there have been trials of xenotransplantation before that were unsuccessful due to rejections.

Topic 3:

From a medical standpoint, surgeons and scientists have been working on xenotransplantation for more than 20 years and have not had much success. It is very risky and experimental. The question then lies in whether or not patients should be able to make the decision to move forward or not.


There are many questions that can be asked and there are not currently enough answers. The FDA approved the one surgery for compassionate use due to extenuating circumstances, but did we just open Pandora's box? Wont many surgeons and patients alike go to the FDA with the same thought process, as 17 people die everyday waiting on an organ. I know there are companies that are “recycling” organs that were not deemed to be fit for transplant and making them viable organs that are being used in organ transplantation today. There are also companies that are trying to essentially grow organs for the use of transplantation. Do we keep researching and digging? At what point should we draw the line?


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