David Bennett, the 57-year old patient with terminal heart disease who two months ago became the first person to receive a heart transplant using a genetically modified pig’s heart, passed away yesterday afternoon on March 8, the University of Maryland Medical Center, which performed the surgery, said in a statement.
Mr. Bennett received the transplant on January 7 and lived for two months following the surgery. His condition began deteriorating several days ago, according to the medical center, which added, "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 surgically transplanted the pig heart into the patient at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC).
“Mr. Bennett became known by millions of people around the world for his courage and steadfast will to live.”
Muhammad M. Mohiuddin, MD, Professor of Surgery and Scientific Director of the Cardiac Xenotransplantation Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, added: “We are grateful to Mr. Bennett for his unique and historic role in helping to contribute to a vast array of knowledge to the field of xenotransplantation.”“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. Mohiuddin. “We remain optimistic and plan on continuing our work in future clinical trials.”
Dr. Griffith added: “As with any first-in-the-world transplant surgery, this one led to valuable insights that will hopefully inform transplant surgeons to improve outcomes and potentially provide lifesaving benefits to future patients.”