A 57-year-old man with terminal heart disease, David Bennett who received a genetically-modified pig’s heart in a groundbreaking transplant has died two months after the surgery.
In January, surgeons at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) performed the transplant on Bennett.
But on Tuesday, the hospital announced that David Bennett has passed on, Sky News reports.
No exact cause of death has yet been established, but doctors said his condition had been deteriorating for several days.
Meanwhile, Bennett’s son, David Jr, praised the hospital for attempting the surgery to save his father’s life and said his family hoped it would contribute to efforts to address a shortage of transplant organs.
Before the transplant in January, the deceased was hospitalised and bed-ridden for several months and connected to a heart-lung bypass machine to remain alive.
The organ transplant was reportedly the only available option for the patient who was said to be suffering from life-threatening arrhythmia.
He had reportedly been deemed ineligible for a conventional heart transplant at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) and other leading transplant centres that reviewed his medical records.
“It was either die or do this transplant. I want to live. I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice. I look forward to getting out of bed after I recover.” Bennett said before the surgery.
The US Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorisation for the surgery on December 31, 2021, through its expanded access (compassionate use) provision in the hope of saving the patient’s life.
Commenting on the surgery, Bartley Griffith, director of the cardiac transplant programme at the medical centre, who performed the operation, said the “breakthrough surgery brings us one step closer to solving the organ shortage crisis.”
“There are simply not enough donor human hearts available to meet the long list of potential recipients,” he was quoted as saying.