The first person to receive a heart transplant from a pig has died, two months after the groundbreaking experiment, the Maryland hospital that performed the surgery announced Wednesday.
(University of Maryland).- As published on the Yucatan times in January 11, an American citizen became the first person to receive a pig’s heart transplant. David Bennett, 57, died Tuesday at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Doctors didn’t give an exact cause of death, saying only that his condition had begun deteriorating several days earlier.
Bennett’s son praised the hospital for offering the last-ditch experiment, saying the family hoped it would help further efforts to end the organ shortage.
“We are grateful for every innovative moment, every crazy dream, every sleepless night that went into this historic effort,” David Bennett Jr. said in a statement released by the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “We hope this story can be the beginning of hope and not the end.”
Doctors for decades have sought to one day use animal organs for life-saving transplants. Bennett, a handyman from Hagerstown, Maryland, was a candidate for this newest attempt only because he otherwise faced certain death — ineligible for a human heart transplant, bedridden and on life support, and out of other options.
After the Jan. 7 operation, Bennett’s son told The Associated Press his father knew there was no guarantee it would work.
Prior attempts at such transplants — or xenotransplantation — have failed largely because patients’ bodies rapidly rejected the animal organ. This time, the Maryland surgeons used a heart from a gene-edited pig: Scientists had modified the animal to remove pig genes that trigger the hyper-fast rejection and add human genes to help the body accept the organ.
At first the pig heart was functioning, and the Maryland hospital issued periodic updates that Bennett seemed to be slowly recovering. Last month, the hospital released video of him watching the Super Bowl from his hospital bed while working with his physical therapist.