David Bennett, 57, the first man to accept a transplant of a genetically altered pig heart, David Bennett, 57, from Hagerstown Maryland, has died two months after the successful transplant.
Bennett who had terrible heart disease received the heart in early January and died on Tuesday, March 8, at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The New York Times reported that the spokesperson from the University of Maryland Medical Center, where the process was conducted in his explanation, did not disclose the cause of his death but said doctors will undergo a full evaluation and publicize their results.
According to the spokesperson, Bennett’s death reveals the challenges of animal-to-human transplants, called xenotransplantation. Supporters of the technique I’m aieve a steady supply of animal organs could help treat the thousands of people on waitlists for organ transplants.
Also in his explanation, he said Researchers and surgeons have shared a wave of successes in recent months — including Bennett’s transplant, which initially appeared successful, and the attachment of a pig kidney to a brain-dead patient on a ventilator.
He added that the kidney and heart came from a company called Revivicor, which has genetically altered pigs to inactivate genes that could trigger a human body to reject an organ.
“Although it’s still too early to say if organ rejection played a role in Bennett’s death, researchers involved in xenotransplantation procedures have stressed that early, positive outcomes don’t necessarily mean long-term success. Even with more routine and well-matched human organ transplants, rejection can happen years after the operation.”
Also responding, Peter Reese, a kidney transplant expert, and researcher at the University of Pennsylvania said on Twitter that Xenotransplantation could be a major innovation but should develop with care and transparency.
He tweeted ” The right road is through oversight deliberate patient selection, transparency, robust ethics input, peer review, and humility from all.”
Reacting, Bennett’s son, David Bennett Jr, in a statement praised the hospital for offering the last-ditch experiment, saying the family hoped it would help further efforts to end the organ shortage.
‘He said, “We are grateful for every innovative moment, every crazy dream, every sleepless night that went into this historic effort.”
“We hope this story can be the beginning of hope and not the end,’ he said. ‘We pray that those looking for hope will continue to fight for the future, fight for new ideas, fight for answers, fight for life. Fight like Dave.’
The doctors who worked with Bennett while reacting also praised the 57-year-old for his bravery.
‘We are devastated by the loss of Mr. Bennett. He proved to be a brave and noble patient who fought to the end. We extend our sincerest condolences to his family,’ Dr. Bartley Griffith, the surgeon who led Bennett’s transplant said in a statement. ‘Mr. Bennett became known by millions of people around the world for his courage and steadfast will to live.’
Dr. Muhammad Mohiuddin, director of cardiac xenotransplantation at the University of Maryland Medical Center, said Bennett’s successful transplant has provided great insight for future procedures.
‘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,’ he said in a statement.
‘We remain optimistic and plan on continuing our work in future clinical trials,’ he added.
Scientists inserted six human genes into the genome of the donor pig – modifications designed to make the organ more tolerable to the human immune system.
The scientists activated four genes, including sugar in its cells that are responsible for that hyper-fast organ rejection and a growth gene to prevent the pig’s heart, which weighs around 267g compared to the average human heart which weighs 303g, from continuing to expand.
Prior attempts at such transplants also known as xenotransplantation – have failed largely because patients’ bodies rapidly rejected the animal organ.
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