- March 11, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Subject: Science & Tech
Context- A patient whose failing heart had been replaced with the heart of a genetically altered pig in a landmark surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Centre in Baltimore, United States, died on Tuesday (March 8), two months after the operation.
- According to the FDA, xenotransplantation is “any procedure that involves the transplantation, implantation or infusion into a human recipient of either
- (a) live cells, tissues, or organs from a nonhuman animal source, or
- (b) human body fluids, cells, tissues or organs that have had ex vivo contact with live nonhuman animal cells, tissues or organs”.
- Xenotransplantation is seen as an alternative to the clinical transplantation of human organs whose demand around the world exceeds supply by a long distance.
- Xenotransplantation involving the heart was first tried in humans in the 1980s.
- A well known case was that of an American baby, Stephanie FaeBeauclair, better known as Baby Fae, who was born with a congenital heart defect, and who received a baboon heart in 1984.
- The surgery was successful, but Baby Fae died within a month of the transplant after the baboon heart was rejected by her body’s immune system.
- Xenotransplantation, if found compatible in the long run, could help provide an alternative supply of organs to those with life-threatening diseases.
Why the heart of a pig?
- Pig heart valves have been used for replacing damaged valves in humans for over 50 years now.
- There are several advantages to using the domesticated or farmed pig (Susscrofadomestica) as the donor animal for xenotransplantation.
- The pig’s anatomical and physiological parameters are similar to that of humans, and the breeding of pigs in farms is widespread and cost-effective.
- Also, many varieties of pig breeds are farmed, which provides an opportunity for the size of the harvested organs to be matched with the specific needs of the human recipient.