Cardiac xenotransplantation: from concept to clinic

For many patients with terminal/advanced cardiac failure, heart transplantation is the most effective, durable treatment option, and offers the best prospects for a high quality of life. The number of potentially life-saving donated human organs is far fewer than the population who could benefit from a new heart, resulting in increasing numbers of patients awaiting replacement of their failing heart, high waitlist mortality, and frequent reliance on interim mechanical support for many of those deemed among the best candidates but who are deteriorating as they wait. Currently, mechanical assist devices supporting left ventricular or biventricular heart function are the only alternative to heart transplant that is in clinical use. Unfortunately, the complication rate with mechanical assistance remains high despite advances in device design and patient selection and management, and the quality of life of the patients even with good outcomes is only moderately improved. 

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