Man who received a pig heart in groundbreaking transplant dies two months after surgery Science and technology news
A terminally ill man who received a genetically engineered pig heart in a landmark transplant has died two months after surgery.
The Maryland Hospital announced that 57-year-old David Bennett died Tuesday. The exact cause of death has not yet been determined, but doctors said his condition had been deteriorating for several days.
Mr Bennett’s son David Jr praised the hospital for attempting the operation to save his father’s life and said his family hoped it would help efforts to address the transplant organ shortage.
After the procedure, doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center said the transplant shows a genetically modified pig heart can be used in the human body without immediate rejection.
In a statement the day before the operation, Mr Bennett said: “It was either dying or doing this transplant. I want to live. I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice.”
His son, David Bennett Jr. said: “He sees the magnitude of what has been done and he really sees the importance of it.
“He might not live, or he might last a day, or he might last a few days. I mean, we’re in the unknown at this point.”
After Bennet Sr’s death, his surgeon Dr. Bartley Griffith: “We are devastated by the loss of Mr. Bennett. He proved to be a brave and noble patient who fought to the end.”
The operation, scientifically known as xenotransplantation, has not worked so far because the patients’ bodies reject the animal organ.
Given the scarcity of human organs available for transplantation, animal alternatives have long been the subject of intense research.
There were just over 3,800 heart transplants in the United States last year, a record number, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).
dr Muhammad Mohiuddin, scientific director of the university’s animal-to-human transplant program, said, “If this works, there will be an endless supply of these organs for suffering patients.”
The most notable attempt was in 1984 when Baby Fae, a dying infant, lived 21 days with a baboon heart.
The Maryland surgeons used a heart from a pig that had been gene-edited to remove a chemical from its cells responsible for organ rejection.
The Chief Medical Officer of the UNOS, Dr. David Klassen, describing the transplant as a “watershed moment,” warned that it was only a first, preliminary step in exploring animal-to-human organ transplantation.