Modified pig hearts can be used for human transplants in just three years, according to the pioneer surgeon who performed the first transplant in the UK 40 years ago.
Speaking on the anniversary of the breakthrough operation, Sir Terence English said his protégé of that successful transplant from 1979 would try to replace a human kidney with a swine kidney later this year.
The expert believes that this may lay the foundation for more complex transplants of animal organs into human bodies – a process called "xenotransplantation".
The 87-year-old told the Sunday Telegraph: "If the result of xenotransplantation is satisfactory for pig kidneys for humans, then it is likely that hearts will be used to good effect in humans within a few years.
"If it works with the kidney, it will work with the heart … This will transform the problem," he explained .
The hearts of pigs have an anatomy like that of humans, so they are used as models for developing new treatments. Heart failure is considered a global pandemic, with at least 26 million people affected worldwide. We hope that the use of pig hearts can help revolutionize how doctors fight the disease.
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