Possible cause of death: Recipient of pig heart had pig virus

Probable cause of death
Pig heart recipient had pig virus

It is considered a monumental breakthrough in the field of organ transplants: in January, a pig’s heart is implanted in a patient for the first time in the United States. The man died a few months after the operation. Now, doctors are announcing that an infection with the porcine virus could be the cause.

After the death of the first recipient of a pig’s heart, doctors announced that they had found a pig virus in the human. Surgeon Bartley Griffith told The New York Times it was unclear whether the virus was directly responsible for the 57-year-old’s death in March. It could also be that he was calm and had no effect on the patient. The “USA Today” newspaper quoted another doctor from the Driving University of Maryland as saying the virus could be one of many factors that ultimately led to death.

In early January, 57-year-old David Bennett became the first patient in the world to have a pig’s heart implanted as a replacement organ. After the operation, the critically ill man’s condition was initially relatively stable.

The heart was “functioning well” and there were no signs of rejection, the clinic said. The patient was doing “better than expected” and was “remarkably awake”, he added. The man was able to spend time with his family and did physiotherapy. After more than a month, however, her condition deteriorated rapidly. The man died in early March.

Experts still regard transplantation as a breakthrough and a great success in the field of xenotransplantation – that is, the transfer of organs from animals to humans, which has been the subject of research for years. 1980. The heart transplant was preceded by a complex procedure: the pig was raised by a specialized company, genetically modified and the organ was examined several times to detect viruses which could have infected the patient. According to the “New York Times”, however, the virus tests performed are only designed to find active pathogens. Apparently, this was not the case with the cytomegalovirus found.

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