BALTIMORE, Md. (WDVM) — Nearly two months after the groundbreaking experiment at the University of Maryland Medical Center, the first person to receive a heart transplant from a pig has died.
In January, 57-year-old David Bennett Sr. received a genetically modified pig heart during the first transplant of its kind. Unfortunately, the medical center confirmed that the handyman from Hagerstown died 60 days after the historic surgery. Doctors say his condition began deteriorating several days ago and that his organs began to fail.
Transplants from non-human animal cells, tissues, or organs, known as xenotransplantation, are not a new practice. For example, skin grafts using frog skin dates back to the 19th century, according to the National Institutes of Health. But this specific case is a breakthrough in the medical field because, according to the f-d-a, ten patients die each day in the united states while on the waiting list to receive lifesaving vital organ transplants.
Bennett’s son, David Bennett Jr., expressed his gratitude for the hospital as his father faced certain death before receiving the groundbreaking transplant.
Dr. Muhammad Mohiuddin, Professor of Surgery and Scientific Director of Cardiac Xenotransplantation at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, praised Bennett’s bravery as well as his strength leading up to and following the procedure.
“Without his contribution, we couldn’t have done this procedure, and he was brave enough to donate his body, his truth to science and to accept this porcine heart, which many would not, and we are very grateful to him,” Dr. Mohiuddin said.
The FDA only granted emergency authorization for this surgery on Dec. 31, 2021, hoping to save Bennett’s life. But doctors at UMD Medical Center say they plan to continue their work in future clinical trials. Bennett’s surgery has led to valuable insights that will hopefully help both surgeons and patients in the future.