This Little Piggy Donated a Heart (to a Human)

The medical community is going hog wild

Love between piggy banks, Brussels, Belgium
© Santiago Urquijo/Moment/Getty Images
Scientific Breakthrough

Another medical marvel involving a pig organ and a homo sapien has transpired. Months after a pig kidney was successfully transplanted into a human, surgeons transplanted a pig heart into a patient with heart disease, probably saving his life, at least until/unless something goes wrong, which there is always the chance of. Can you say oink-tacular?

The operation took place on New Year’s Eve across the span of eight hours at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, according to the New York Times. The patient, a 57-year-old man named David Bennett Sr., reportedly chose to accept the experimental treatment because he was too sick to qualify for a human donor heart and would have died otherwise.

Like with the kidney, this porcine heart was taken from a pig that was genetically engineered in order to increase the chances of the organ being accepted by the human body. Dr. Bartley Griffith, who performed the operation, said that the anatomy was “a little squirrelly” (typically not a good sign), and there were “a few moments of ‘uh-oh’” (also not ideal, medically speaking), but after “some clever plastic surgery to make everything fit,” the heart “fired right up” and began to work.

While the heart appears to be fully functioning inside its new host, Bennett is still being monitored in case of bodily rejection or infections. But if all goes well, he will have a new lease on life — not to mention, a story to tell at dinner parties that just cannot be beat, no matter how many yachts Greg has bought or which Ivy League school Betty’s kids got into (boar-ing!). Congratulations, sir, and happy tidings for all people in need of a heart transplant.