Man receives heart transplant from pig in world first – National & International News – TUE 11Jan2022

David Bennett (right), 57, is the first person in the world to receive a heart transplant from a pig. He's pictured with surgeon Bartley P. Griffith who performed the procedure.



Man receives pig heart transplant in world first. Biden pivots to voting rights. Landmine-sniffing hero rat dies aged 8.




Man receives pig heart transplant in world first

David Bennett, 57, is the first person ever to receive a heart transplant from a pig. The groundbreaking 7-hour procedure took place last week in Baltimore. Doctors say Bennett is doing well and breathing on his own three days later. However it remains uncertain how long Bennett will live. Bennett’s other health issues made him ineligible to receive a human heart transplant. Surgeons got the OK to move forward with the experimental procedure as a last-ditch effort to save his life.

The donor pig had been genetically modified to eliminate genetic factors that might increase the chances of organ rejection. Replacement of human heart valves with valves from pig hearts has long been common, but this it the first time a whole pig heart has been successfully transplanted to a human.

In October last year, a braindead patient received the first ever successful kidney transplant from a pig. Procedures like this could eventually alleviate the deadly shortage of human transplant organs. Every day, 17 people die in the U.S. awaiting a transplant, and more than 100,000 are still on the waiting list.

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Biden to support filibuster changes to pass voting rights bill

In a speech in Georgia today, President Biden will be putting his weight behind a push to pass national voting rights legislation. With his Build Back Better agenda hitting a roadblock, Biden and other Democratic leaders are pivoting to an emphasis on voting rights as a top legislative priority. Since 2020, several states, including Georgia, have passed restrictive voting laws. Activists say the laws purposefully make voting more difficult for minorities and other marginalized groups. 

Last year, Texas state legislators fled the state to prevent passage of voting restrictions there. The Democratic legislators went to Washington and pushed in vain for weeks for Congress and the White House to take up the voting rights fight. Now, many activists are disillusioned with Biden’s efforts or lack thereof to get movement on national voting rights protections.

Passing voting rights protections through the Senate will likely require at least a carve out from the filibuster, which allows minority parties to block legislation by requiring a 2/3rds majority for passage. Until now, Biden has shied away from openly supporting changes to the filibuster.

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Landmine-sniffing hero rat dies aged 8

Over 5 years, a specially bred and trained rat named Magawa sniffed out over 100 landmines and other explosives in Cambodia, allowing his human handlers to safely remove them. The Dutch charity Apopo aims to neutralize landmines from bygone wars that still pose a danger to civilians and animals today. The charity trained Magawa, an African giant pouch rat, for a year to detect a compound in the explosives.

Apopo says there are at least 6 million mines left to clear in Cambodia. For humans, mine clearing is a time-consuming and dangerous process. Magawa had a safety advantage since, at just 2.6 lbs, he was too light to set off a mine if he trod over one. He was able to clear an area the size of a tennis court in about 20 minutes. It would take a person with a metal detector 3-4 days to clear a similar area. Over his lifetime, Magawa cleared 1,517,711 sq. ft (about 35 acres) of land. 

In 2020, the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals awarded Magawa its gold medal for heroism. The PDSA gold medal is recognized as the animal equivalent of the George Cross, a prestigious British military honor.

Magawa retired last June due to age. He “spent most of last week playing with his usual enthusiasm”, but had started to slow down by the weekend. In a statement, the charity said, “All of us at Apopo are feeling the loss of Magawa and we are grateful for the incredible work he’s done”.

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