Woman's Diseased Heart Rebuilt Using Human and Cow Tissue

A 46-year-old woman suffering from a rare hereditary disorder successfully had her heart removed and parts of it rebuilt using tissue from cows.

Sandra Lanier of Ware, Mass., is one of only about 400 people known worldwide to suffer from “Carney Complex” — a hereditary disorder that causes recurring non-cancerous tumors. In Lanier’s case, it caused tumors to repeatedly grow in her left atrium, and she had endured three open heart surgeries before her most recent operation.

Dr. James Gammie and Dr. Bartley Griffith of the University of Maryland Medical Center removed her heart as part of a 12-hour operation and rebuilt the left and right atrium with human and cow tissue. According to the Associated Press,

During the operation, Gammie took out the remaining atrial tissue and used cow tissue to replace the back portion of the atria and line up the pulmonary veins so they could be reattached to the heart.

Meanwhile, Griffith rebuilt Lanier’s atria with a combination of animal and human tissue. Griffith said the animal and human tissue knitted together nicely with the remaining half of her own heart.

Griffith performed a similar surgery in 2000.


Surgeons use animal and human tissue on woman’s heart to remove tumor. Brian White, Associated Press, August 29, 2003.

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