Dave Bennett is the first ever recipient of a heart transplant from a pig in a groundbreaking procedure that promises a wild and exciting new frontier in medicine. The University of Maryland Medical Center was able to successfully transplant a pig’s gene-modified heart into his body with no issues. As of press time, doctors were thrilled with Bennett’s progress, saying his new heart was “rocking and rolling.”
That’s great news, because the world is facing a global shortage of human organs, with 100,000 people on a waiting list in the U.S. alone. Scientists have long theorized that “xenotransplantation” — animal to human organ transplants — could be part of addressing this shortage, and Bennett is proof that the idea could work.
How should Christians feel about this wild new frontier? Albert Mohler is the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and he says he’s all for it. “There are serious moral and worldview issues to be addressed with this new procedure, but there is no categorical reason for Christians to reject it,” he wrote for WORLD Opinions. “Keeping the distinction between the pig and the man will be crucial, but we can properly thank God for this particular pig and pray for this particular man.”
Mohler’s thoughts were echoed by Bioethicist Wesley J. Smith, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. “I can’t think of any reason to oppose this approach – assuming safety and efficacy – unless one is an animal-rights believer who thinks that pigs have equal value to humans,” he wrote at National Review.
The pig’s heart had its genes slightly edited to make it more compatible with a human. Even so, doctors were nervous. Bennett was not considered an ideal candidate for the xenotransplant because of some health issues in his past. But his body accepted the transplant with no major issues. Much remains to be seen. As with any transplant, Bennett’s body could still reject the organ in the future. But for now, doctors are optimistic about Bennett’s chances and the future of xenotransplantation.