WASHINGTON — A 58-year-old man with terminal heart disease was the second patient in the world to get a pig heart transplanted on Wednesday.
The University of Maryland Medical Center said that the man received a genetically-modified pigs heart earlier in the week and is recovering. Medical staff say he is also communicating with his family.
“This is only the second time in the world that a genetically modified pig heart has been transplanted into a living patient,” the medical center said.
The Food and Drug Administration had to provide special permission to the University of Maryland to treat the man outside of a trial due to the fact he no longer had any other options, The Associated Press reported.
The man was identified as Lawrence Faucette, according to the medical center. He is a veteran of the Navy. The University of Maryland Medicine said, according to the AP, that he was facing “near-certain death from heart failure,” and since he had other health issues, he was unable to get a more traditional heart transplant.
The first pig heart transplant procedure happened in Jan. 2022, the University of Maryland Medical Center said. Both procedures were done by faculty of the medical center and University of Maryland School of Medicine.
The AP reported that the first recipient, David Bennett, lived for two months after the transplant.
“My only real hope left is to go with the pig heart, the xenotransplant,” said Faucette during a pre-surgery interview, according to the medical center. “Dr. Griffith, Dr. Mohiuddin and their entire staff have been incredible, but nobody knows from this point forward. At least now I have hope, and I have a chance.”
“We are once again offering a dying patient a shot at a longer life, and we are incredibly grateful to Mr. Faucette for his bravery and willingness to help advance our knowledge of this field,” said Bartley P. Griffith, MD, who surgically transplanted the pig heart into both the first and second patient at University of Maryland Medical Center. “We are hopeful that he will get home soon to enjoy more time with his wife and the rest of his loving family.”
The next few weeks for Faucette will be critical but according to the AP, the doctors are happy with his early response.
There reportedly is a huge shortage of human organs donated for transplant, the AP reported. Last year, there were only over 4,100 heart transplants in the United States. It’s a record number but the only ones with best chance of long-term survival are getting offered the transplant due to the tight supply.