The first man in the world to get a heart transplant from a genetically-modified pig has died.
David Bennett, who suffered terminal heart disease, survived for two months after successful surgery in the United States.
Mr. Bennett’s doctors in Baltimore disclosed that his [Bennett’s] condition began to deteriorate several days ago, which later resulted in the demise of the 57-year-old.
Mr. Bennett was made aware of the risk attached to the surgery, acknowledging before the procedure that it was “a shot in the dark”.
Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center were granted a special dispensation by the US medical regulator to carry out the procedure, on the basis that Mr Bennett, who was ineligible for a human transplant, would have died.
Before the surgery, Mr. Bennett was already bedridden for six weeks leading up to the surgery, attached to a machine that was keeping him alive.
The surgery was conducted on January 7, 2022, and doctors reported that in the weeks afterwards, he spent time with his family, watched the Super Bowl and spoke about wanting to get home to his dog, Lucky. But his condition deteriorated, leaving doctors “devastated”.
“He proved to be a brave and noble patient who fought all the way to the end,” surgeon Bartley Griffith, who performed the transplant, stated in a statement released by the hospital.
But Mr. Bennett’s son, David Jr., said he hoped his father’s transplant would “be the beginning of hope and not the end.”
“We are grateful for every innovative moment, every crazy dream, every sleepless night that went into this historic effort.”Mr. Bennett’s son, David Jr.
Dr. Griffith previously disclosed that the surgery would bring the world “one step closer to solving the organ shortage crisis”.
Research suggests that 17 people die every day in the US while awaiting a transplant, with more than 100,000 more reportedly on the waiting list.
The possibility of using animal organs for so-called xenotransplantation to meet the demand has long been considered, and using the heart of a pig is already common.
In October 2021, surgeons in New York announced that they had successfully transplanted a pig’s kidney into a person. At the time, the operation was the most advanced experiment in the field so far. However, the recipient on that occasion was brain dead with no hope of recovery.
Bennett became the first person in the world to get a heart transplant from a genetically-modified pig.
David Bennett, 57, was doing well three days after the experimental seven-hour procedure in Baltimore, doctors said.
The transplant was considered the last hope of saving Mr. Bennett’s life, though it is not yet clear what his long-term chances of survival were.
“It was either die or do this transplant,” Mr Bennett explained a day before the surgery was conducted.
“I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice.”Mr. David Bennett
Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center were granted a special dispensation by the US medical regulator to carry out the procedure, on the basis that Mr Bennett, who has terminal heart disease, would have died.