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Why are pig hearts used to study the anatomy of human heart ?

You Won’t Believe the Reason !

Why are pig hearts used to study the anatomy of the human heart ? Well, it’s not because pigs are secretly aspiring cardiologists. No, not at all ! it’s because these little piggies have a lot more in common with us than we’d like to admit. I know, this weird similarity might sound insane

So, consider you have got a pig heart in one hand and a human heart in the other. Oh ! don’t worry, we’re not going full Frankenstein here. What you will find is , surprising similarities! Both hearts boast four chambers, two atriums, two ventricles, and four trusty valves. It is almost like a mirror reflection, except the beating rate of both the hearts are different from each other.

Anatomy of human heart

The Tissue

Now, let’s remember tissue. Remember the stuff that makes your heart go pitter-patter? Well, pig hearts are so human-like that we can even use their tissue to patch up our own hearts. Think it in a way, as if a little piece of pork making your ticker tick again!

Of course, we hae got to give it a good scrub and polish before we attach it to any human heart

From Farm to Lab

But the most important question here is why pigs?
I mean, .why not !
Because, pigs are readily available, grows fast, and reach adult organ size in no time.

The Future of Heart-y Research

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room or should I say, the pig?
With advancements in genetic editing, we are getting more into xenotransplantation where – animal organs could save human lives.

Because of all these reasons, pig hearts are used to study the anatomy of the human heart.

The Kidney Connection

Now, there’s another connection though. Other than hearts ,kidneys are also where pigs are making quite an influence. Similar to hearts, pig kidneys share striking similarities with their human counterparts, too.

From filtration to regulation, these little bean-shaped organs know how to keep things in check.
No wonder it’s definitely have been a groundbreaking move.
Surgeons in Boston recently pulled off the ultimate kidney swap by transplanting a genetically modified pig kidney into a living, breathing human.
That is insane right? But it is the fact.

Structure of human Kidney


Q. Why are pig hearts similar to human hearts?

A. Pig hearts share a striking resemblance to human hearts in terms of structure, size, and function, making them ideal for studying human cardiac anatomy.

Q. Are pig hearts used in human surgeries?

A. While pig tissue is utilized for making heart valve replacements for humans, the whole heart is not directly transplanted into humans due to compatibility and ethical concerns.

Q. What is xenotransplantation?

A. Xenotransplantation is the process of transplanting organs or tissues from one species to another, with the aim of addressing organ shortages in humans.

Q. What are the potential risks of using pig organs in humans?

A. There are concerns regarding immune rejection and the transfer of diseases from pigs to humans. However ,gene editing and rigorous screening protocols are being used to minimize the amount of risk.

Q. What are the ethical considerations of xenotransplantation?

A. Ethical considerations include animal welfare, consent, and the potential for creating a market for organ farming, raising questions about the commodification of living beings.

Thanks to advances in genetic editing. Without the general edit, it would never have been possible to turn a pig’s kidney into tailor-made and compatible with the recipient’s body.
This is necessary for reducing the risk of rejection.
Indeed , it’s a game-changer in the realm of organ transplantation, offering hope to millions of patients waiting for a lifeline.

References : The Times of India , Seattle Pi

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