Animal’s hearts could be transplanted into humans ‘within three years’

Modified pig hearts could be used for human transplants within just three years, according to the pioneering surgeon who performed the first transplantation in the UK 40 years ago.

Speaking on the anniversary of the breakthrough operation, Sir Terence English said his protege from that successful 1979 transplant will try to replace a human kidney with a pig’s kidney later this year.

The expert believes this could set the groundwork for more complicated 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 with porcine kidneys to humans then it is likely that hearts would be used with good effects in humans within a few years.

“If it works with a kidney, it will work with a heart… That will transform the issue,” he explained.

Pigs’ hearts have similar anatomy to those 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 around the world. It’s hoped that using pigs’ hearts could help revolutionize how doctors combat the disease.

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