First human to recieve pig heart transplant dies after two months

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David Bennett, aged 57, had died on 8th March, at the University of Maryland Medical Center(UMMC) in the US after 2 months of the first heart transplant from a gene-modified pig.

UMMC mentioned that Bennett had terminal heart disease and was about to die. He was considered to be uneligible for a human heart transplant and was on life support.
Doctors have been trying for years to use animal organs for life-saving transplants. This newest attempt was done on Bennett as this was his only option. Earlier attempts of animal organ transplant or xenotransplantation had failed as the human bodies immediately rejected the animal organs. For Bennett, the doctors of Maryland hospital genetically modified the pig to eliminate the genes that may result in the rejection of the organ by Bennett’s body. The day before the surgery, Bennett said, “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”, sourced from a news agency. After the surgery, Bennett was under supervision for a few weeks and was doing pretty well. This was marked as the first surgery where the genetically-modified animal heart functioned as a human heart without immediately rejecting it. His health significantly deteriorated several days before his death, although doctors did not mention any exact cause.

David Bennett survived much longer than the last xenotransplantation, which was applied on a dying infant, who further lived for 21 days with a baboon’s heart in 1984. Bennett’s son appreciated the hospital for the last-minute try and hoped these efforts will further end the organ shortage crisis.

Other transplant experts voiced that Bennett’s death should not restrict the research on usage of animal organs to save human lives, which would further help to end organ shortage crisis.

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