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Genetically modified freeze dried pig heart, United Kingdom, 1999

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A pig’s heart is close in structure and size to a human heart. This freeze dried example was genetically engineered to be suitable for transplant into humans so the body will not reject the new organ. The practice of using animal organs for human body parts is known as xenotransplantation. The first animal-to-human heart transplant took place in 1964, and was carried out by James D Hardy (1918-2003). The patient survived for only two hours with a chimpanzee heart. This heart had been genetically modified by Imutran Ltd, who donated it to the Science Museum’s collections.

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Glossary: transplant

Surgical operation to introduce organ or tissue from one person (the donor) to another (the recipient). It may also refer to the transfer of tissues from one part of a person's body to another part of the same person's body.

Glossary: pig heart

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