The first person to receive a heart transplant from a genetically altered pig has died two months after the groundbreaking experiment.
The patient died on Tuesday, March 8 at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The surgery, performed by a team at the hospital, was among the first to demonstrate the feasibility of a pig-to-human heart transplant, a field made possible by new gene editing tools.
David Bennett, who had terminal heart disease, survived for two months following the surgery in the US. The 57-year-old knew the risks tied to the surgery and had acknowledged before the procedure.
“We are devastated by the loss of Mr Bennett. He proved to be a brave and noble patient who fought all the way to the end,” Dr Bartley Griffith, who performed the surgery at the Baltimore hospital, said in a statement.
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.”
For decades, doctors 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.
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