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‘We are on the right side of the ethical line’, Christian Medical Fellowship welcomes pig-heart transplant

by Kelly Valencia

The chief executive of the Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) has welcomed the first pig-heart transplant on human beings carried out in the US.

Terminally ill patient, David Bennett has become the first man to function with a genetically modified pig heart in a first-of-its-kind surgery.

Speaking to Premier, Dr Mark Pickering said that although these types of operations tend to raise ethical concerns, in this case “we are on the right side of the line” as it is helping a human being to function fully for a little longer instead of modifying its DNA.

“We often use in CMF, this analogy of the flawed masterpiece, if you imagine a Rembrandt, or something that's been discovered in an old barn somewhere, and it's all defaced, it's been painted over by something else, it's damaged, you can restore that…But then if you start to say, I think I can do better here, I think I can improve this and you make it better than Rembrandt could, then it's different,” Dr Pickering said.

He continued: “I think the whole question is: ‘are you modifying the species?’ and in this case, you're not because this transplant recipient will die at some point anyway, it's not going to change anything for his descendants.”

For 57-year-old David Bennett of Maryland, the heart transplant was his last option.

"It was either die or do this transplant. I want to live. I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice,” Bennett said a day before his surgery, according to a statement released by the university.

If proven successful, scientists hope pig organs could help alleviate shortages of donor organs.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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