Man who received first pig heart transplant dies after two months

The experimental transplant, using the heart of a genetically modified pig, had been the first of its kind.

A patient who received a pig’s heart in an experimental surgery has died just two months later, his hospital says.

David Bennett Sr, of Maryland, was 57. In January he underwent the groundbreaking operation – the first of its kind – after being deemed ineligible for a normal heart transplant. For about two months, the heart of a genetically modified pig kept him alive.

“It creates the pulse, it creates the pressure, it is his heart,” Dr Bartley Griffith, director of the cardiac transplant program at the University of Maryland Medical Center, told The New York Times shortly after the surgery. “It’s working and it looks normal. We are thrilled, but we don’t know what tomorrow will bring us.”

The University of Maryland did not specify Mr Bennett’s exact cause of death, but said his condition had been worsening over the past few days. He died at the medical center.

“We are devastated by the loss of Mr Bennett,” Dr Bartley Griffith, who performed the surgery, told the Associated Press. “He proved to be a brave and noble patient who fought all the way to the end.”

In a statement, Mr Bennett’s son thanked the hospital for doing all it could.

“We are grateful for every innovative moment, every crazy dream, every sleepless night that went into this historic effort,” David Bennett Jr wrote. “We hope this story can be the beginning of hope and not the end.”

For many, the January surgery had sparked hope that similar transplants could help the huge number of patients in need of new organs. According to the Associated Press, there are more than 100,000 Americans on the national waiting list for organ donations. Thousands die every year before getting one.

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