A man who received the world’s first pig heart transplant at the University of Maryland Medical Center earlier this year has died. Hospital officials confirmed that David Bennett, 57, passed away Tuesday afternoon.
Bennett, who had been diagnosed with terminal heart disease, made history as the first person to receive a genetically modified pig’s heart. He received the transplant on Jan. 7 and lived for two months following the surgery.
According to hospital officials, his condition began deteriorating several days ago. After it became clear that he would not recover, he was given compassionate palliative care. He was able to communicate with his family during his final hours.
“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. We extend our sincerest condolences to his family,” said Dr. Bartley P. Griffith, who performed the surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) in Baltimore.
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When Bennett first came to UMMC as a patient in October 2021, he was bedridden and placed on a heart-lung bypass machine to remain alive, hospital officials said.
Deemed ineligible for a conventional heart transplant, Bennett was given a second chance when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency authorization for the first-of-its-kind surgery in the hope of saving his life.
Although the groundbreaking surgery extended Bennett’s life for only several months, hospital officials said his death was not in vain.
“We have gained invaluable insights learning that the genetically modified pig heart can function well within the human body while the immune system is adequately suppressed,” said Dr. Muhammad M. Mohiuddin. “We remain optimistic and plan on continuing our work in future clinical trials.”