Baltimore (AP) – David Bennett, 57, who had a pig heart used as a replacement organ for the first time in the world, died about two months after the operation Tuesday, University Hospital in Baltimore. he said Wednesday.
His condition began to deteriorate a few days ago. She finally received palliative care. In her last hours she was still able to communicate with her family.
“We are devastated by the loss of David Bennett,” Chief Surgeon Bartley Griffith said. “He proved to be a brave and honorable patient who fought to the end.” Bennett became known throughout the world for “his courage and his unwavering will to live.” Bennett’s son, David Bennett Jr., thanked the doctors. “We are grateful for every groundbreaking moment, every crazy dream and every sleepless night that was part of this historic effort.” Bennett is survived by another adult son, five grandchildren and two sisters.
Man was not suitable for a donor heart
In October 2021, he went to the University Hospital of Baltimore as a serious patient. Because the man, who suffers from life-threatening heart disease, was classified as unsuitable for a heart donor, the US health authority FDA granted an exemption for the attempt to save his life with the animal organ.
In early January, the man had the genetically modified pig organ implanted in an operation that lasted several hours. This was considered a milestone in the field of organ transplantation. The patient was then connected to a cardiopulmonary bypass machine for a few days.
The first few weeks gave reason for hope
The man’s condition was initially relatively stable, the clinic said. The heart “functioned well”, there were no signs of rejection. Bennett was “better than expected,” he was “remarkably awake,” he told himself. The man was able to spend time with his family and did physical therapy. Among other things, he followed the Super Bowl football show and often talked about wanting to go home with his dog, Lucky.
The so-called xenotransplantation, that is, the transfer of animal organs to humans, has been investigated since the 1980s. Pigs are particularly suitable as donors because their metabolism is similar to that of humans. According to scientists, the survival record for a pig-hearted baboon in Germany is 195 days. The basis for similar operations on people as in the US has also been created in Germany, but it is not yet clear when that might be.
Muhammad Mohiuddin, chief surgeon at University Hospital Maryland, thanked Bennett for his “unique and historic role” in advancing xenotransplantation. “We remain optimistic and plan to continue our work with additional clinical trials.”