Physicians have been researching the use of animal organs in humans for a long time. For the first time, a seriously ill patient has had a pig’s heart implanted. For two months, his condition gave doctors hope.
Baltimore – The 57-year-old, who had a pig’s heart used as a replacement organ for the first time in the world, is dead. David Bennett died about two months after the operation on Tuesday, the University Hospital in Baltimore said on Wednesday.
His condition started deteriorating a few days ago. Eventually he got palliative care. In his last hours he was still able to communicate with his family.
“We are devastated by the loss of David Bennett,” said chief surgeon Bartley Griffith. “He proved to be a courageous, honorable patient who fought to the end.” Bennett became known around the world for “his courage and his unwavering will to live”. Bennett’s son, David Bennett Jr., thanked the doctors. “We’re grateful for every innovative moment, every crazy dream, and every sleepless night that was a part of this historic effort.” Bennett is survived by another adult child, five grandchildren and two sisters.
Man was not suitable for donor heart
In October 2021 he came to the University Hospital in Baltimore as a seriously ill patient. Because the man, who is suffering from a life-threatening heart disease, was classified as unsuitable for a donor heart, the US health authority FDA granted an exemption for the attempt to save his life with the animal organ.
At the beginning of January, the man was then implanted with the genetically modified pig organ in an operation lasting several hours. This was considered a milestone in the field of organ transplantation. The patient was then connected to a heart-lung machine for a few days.
The first few weeks gave reason for hope
The condition of the man was initially relatively stable, the clinic said. The heart “worked well”, there were no signs of rejection. Bennett was “better than expected” and said he was “remarkably awake.” The man was able to spend time with his family and did physiotherapy. Among other things, he followed the football spectacle Super Bowl and often talked about wanting to go home to his dog Lucky.
So-called xenotransplantation – i.e. the transfer of animal organs to humans – has been researched 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 baboon with a pig heart in Germany is 195 days. The basis for similar operations on people as in the USA has also been created in Germany – but when it could be so far is still unclear.
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 further clinical trials.”
#pig #heart #transplant #patient #dies