Surgeons have performed a second experimental pig organ procedure, transplanting a pig's heart into 58-year-old Lawrence Faucette in hopes of prolonging his life.
Faucette, a Navy veteran, had heart failure that was expected to almost certainly cause his death. But doctors say he also wasn't eligible for a traditional heart transplant from a human donor.
Faucette became the second person ever to receive a pig's heart,
Two days after the procedure, he was alert and joking with family in the hospital. Doctors will monitor him closely, especially during the next few weeks of his recovery.
Last year another man, David Bennett, received the first pig heart ever transplanted into a human. He survived for two months following the procedure.
Animal-to-human transplants offer a way to help meet the huge demand for vital organs in humans, but until recently animal tissue has been unsuitable because the human immune system attacks and destroys it. Now, research is underway to genetically modify animal organs so they'll be more likely to cooperate with a human body, and to test more pig organs in donated human bodies to learn more about how to transplant them.
Until then, experimental procedures like this one are considered last-resort surgeries, and require special permission from the FDA and from surgery subjects.
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