Man who received world’s first pig heart transplant dies
The first person to receive a heart transplant from a pig has passed away two months after the groundbreaking surgery, the University of Maryland Medical Center announced on Wednesday.
David Bennett’s condition had begun to deteriorate several days prior, doctors revealed, although the cause of death is not yet known.
The 57-year-old had received the surgery in January after suffering from terminal heart disease, with his family having previously accepted that the procedure was a “shot in the dark” and the “last choice” at saving Bennett’s life.
“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 following the death of his father.
“This organ transplant demonstrated for the first time that a genetically-modified animal heart can function like a human heart without immediate rejection by the body,” doctors at the Maryland facility said at the time of the surgery.
The medical professional who performed the transplant described it after the procedure as a “breakthrough surgery” that brings society “one step closer to solving the organ shortage crisis.”
Previous attempts at such transplants failed mainly because the bodies of the recipients rejected the animal organ. The Maryland procedure had been different, as the pig had been genetically modified to remove the animal’s genes to attempt to allow the body to accept the organ.
The pig heart had initially functioned in the patient and the hospital had released a video of Bennett in February watching the Super Bowl from his hospital bed.