The 57-year-old Maryland man, who survived a two-month-old heart transplant from a genetically modified pig, carried the symptoms of the virus that infects animals, the surgeon who first operated on him said.
This revelation is one of the most pressing objections to animal-human transplant surgery, i.e. the widespread use of modified animal organs to help introduce new pathogens into the human population.
The patient’s presence of viral DNA may indicate an infection that caused his sudden collapse and death on March 8, said Dr. Bartley Griffith, an alternative surgeon at the American Society of Medicine University. Alternative surgery.
Comments by Dr. Griffith First reported by MIT Technology Review.
The pig is genetically modified so that its organs are not rejected by the human immune system. The heart of patient David Bennett Sr. was donated by Revivicore, a regenerative pharmaceutical company based in Blackburg.
Company officials declined to comment Thursday. University officials said the animal was screened for a virus called porcine cytomegalovirus. But tests only take active infections, not hidden ones that the virus can quietly hide in the pig’s body.
Mr. Bennett’s transplant surgery was initially considered successful. He showed no signs of organ rejection, and the pig’s heart continued to function for more than a month, passing an important milestone for transplant patients.
20 days after transplant surgery Mr. One test indicated the presence of porcine CMV in Bennett, but Dr Griffith said he thought it might be a laboratory error. Within 45 days after surgery, Mr. Bennett became seriously ill and subsequent tests showed a rapid increase in virus levels, Dr. Griffith said.
“So on the 20th day we started to think that the virus with a lightning bolt started to grow over time, and it could be the cast – it could be the cast – it all stopped,” Dr. Griffith told other alternative scientists.
45 days after the operation, Mr. Bennett’s health suddenly deteriorated, he said.
“On the 45th day, he seemed to have a lot of fun,” Dr. Griffith said. “Something had happened. He was found unwell. He lost his focus. He would not talk to us. He was lying in bed breathing hard and was kind of hot. Mr. Bennett died on March 8th.
Heart transplant surgery is one of the many exciting transplant surgeries in recent months that gives hope to the tens of thousands of patients who need new kidneys, hearts and lungs amidst a shortage of donated human organs.
But the possibility of unintended consequences – especially the potential introduction of animal disease to the human population – can dampen the urge to use genetically modified organs.
Many scientists believe the corona virus infection was caused by a virus that spread from an animal that has not yet been identified to people in China.