Lead surgeon, Bartley Griffith, exclaimed “the heart fired right up.” And with that as testimony, the world’s first “successful” transplant of an animal heart into a human was performed. The heart was that of a pig; the other “pig” — the human guinea pig variety — a 57-year-old gentleman (a former violent felon, actually) by the name of David Bennett.
Bennett had end-stage heart disease and as of this writing his heart oinks no more. He has given up his mortal coil, along with the genetically modified organ which had so benevolently kept body and soul together for all of 61 days — yet deemed a success.
As the lines between science fiction and reality have been blurred, so have the lines between species — nonhuman and human. We are left to wonder what drives the passions of those in the lab coats responsible for blurring these lines. After all, we are not talking about the commercialization of lab cultured meat such as that coming from Upside Foods. These are vital organs, hearts and kidneys, harvested to take the place of our own. Martine Rothblatt, CEO of United Therapeutics, distills their vision: “Just like we keep cars and planes and buildings going forever with an unlimited supply of building and machine parts, why can’t we create an unlimited supply of transplantable organs to keep people living indefinitely?”