US Man Who Got First Ever Pig Heart Transplant Dies After 2 Months

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 David Bennet, received the ground-breaking procedure of pig heart transplant on January 7th at the University of Maryland Medical Centre.

By Malathy S S

US Man Who Got First Ever Pig Heart Transplant Dies After 2 Months
Surgeon Dr. Bartley Griffith (L) poses with patient David Bennett, Sr. post heart transplantation 

A 57-year-old man with terminal heart disease who made history as the first person ever to receive a genetically modified pig’s heart has died at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

David Bennet, received the ground-breaking procedure of pig heart transplant on January 7th at the University of Maryland Medical Centre. The exact cause of death is not known, nor did doctors mention any specific cause.

Doctors only said that his condition had been deteriorating for several days earlier. Mr Bennett was given “compassionate palliative care” after it became clear that he would not recover.  Bennet was able to communicate well with his family during his final hours.

“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 UMMC.

For several years, doctors have been practising and devising ways of using animal organs for life saving transplants. This was the first xenotransplantation (transplantation of living cells, tissues or organs from one species to another) that was successful without any sort of rejection from the body to external organs.

Doctors had achieved the almost impossible task in David Bennet as Bennet’s son said, this was indeed a miracle. As there are several risks to normal organ transplant itself, this kind of transplantation was a breakthrough to the history of genetically modified genes. 

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“Bennet had heart failure and an irregular heartbeat, as well as a history of not following medical recommendations,” “He was termed ineligible for any sort of heart pump implantation or normal human heart implantation that requires constant immunosuppressants intake.”

“We are heartbroken by Mr. Bennett’s death. In a statement, Dr. Bartley Griffith, who conducted the operation at the Baltimore hospital, stated, “He proved to be a courageous and noble patient who battled all the way to the end.”

Bennet’s death post heart transplantation, should not embed the fact that xenotransplantation in itself determines short life expectancy. What happened in the case of Bennet was due to already existing underlying body conditions. More research is being done with respect to animal human transplantations. 

Transplant centres should start educating their patients now about what to expect as this science unfolds, said Maschke, who with funding from the National Institutes of Health is developing ethics and policy recommendations on who should be allowed in the first studies of pig kidneys and what they need to know before volunteering.


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