On January 7, doctors at the Maryland hospital in the US transplanted a genetically modified pig's heart into a patient, the first such operation of its kind.
However, Assam's Dr Dhani Ram Baruah has claimed that what the US has managed in 2022, he had done the historic surgery 25 years ago, back in 1997.
Caught In Controversy
The 72-year-old doctor was embroiled in a controversy when he performed xenotransplantation (transplanting organs from one species to another) surgery and transplanted a pig's heart, lungs and kidney on a 32-year-old end-stage organ failure patient on January 1, 1997. However, the procedure did not yield good results.
Following the surgery, performed in Baruah's clinic in Sonapur on Guwahati outskirts, the patient Purno Saikia survived for seven days before succumbing to multiple infections, The Indian Express reported.
The transplantation led to massive outrage, and the then Assam government ordered the arrest of Baruah and his Hong Kong-based assistant surgeon Dr Jonathan Ho Kei-Shing.
Both Baruah and Ho Kei-Shing were imprisoned for 40 days for being guilty of unethical procedure and culpable homicide under the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994.
At an international conference in 1995, Dr Baruah had said pigs are close to humans in various aspects. At this point, he had developed an "electric motor-driven artificial biological heart made of ox pericardium that was implanted in a pig", The Hindu reported.
Claimed To Perform 102 Animal Experiments
Dr Baruah said he had performed 102 animal experiments on xenotransplantation.
After the transplantation created an uproar, the Assam government formed an inquiry committee that found pig heart implants unethical and unlawful.
Dalimi Baruah, a long-time research associate of Dr Baruah, said her mentor's ability to speak appropriately was affected after undergoing brain surgery and tracheostomy following a stroke a few years ago.
Critics said that the scientific community did not take or accept Baruah's claims and medical procedures seriously because he never got his findings scientifically peer-reviewed.
Dalimi said that Baruah has been working on "new research" in the last few years so that "humans can live disease-free".