Man Who Received Pig Heart Transplant Dies Two Months After Surgery

David Bennett, who became the first person in human history to receive a pig heart transplant, died just two months after receiving the gene-edited organ.

man dies pig heart transplant

University of Maryland School of Medicine

man dies pig heart transplant

David Bennett, who became the first person to ever to receive pig heart transplant, died on Tuesday, USA Todayreports.

While the 57-year-old’s health began to deteriorate in the days leading up to his passing, the University of Maryland Medical Center has yet to determine the cause of death. Hospital spokesperson Deborah Kotz said researchers will conduct a thorough review into his death, with the results to be published in a peer-reviewed journal in the future.

“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 Griffith, who led his transplant. “Mr. Bennett became known by millions of people around the world for his courage and steadfast will to live.” 

Bennett received a heart from a 1-year-old, 240-pound pig provided by regenerative medicine company Revivicor. “It was either die or do this transplant,” he said back in January. “I want to live. I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice.” His heart performed without issue for weeks, and his body did not reject it. He was receiving rehabilitation after the surgery, and his physical therapist said he was able to sit up to watch the Super Bowl.

"Their exhaustive efforts and energy, paired with my dad’s insatiable will to live, created a hopeful environment during an uphill climb," said Bennett's son, David Bennett Jr., in a statement. "We were able to spend some precious weeks together while he recovered from the transplant surgery, weeks we would not have had without this miraculous effort." 

Bennett received the pig heart transplant on Jan. 7 at the University of Maryland Medical Center, and was recovering there following the surgery. Prior to the transplant, he was at the hospital on a heart-lung bypass machine and was bedridden. He was also ineligible for a human heart transplant since he had previously ignored medical recommendations. 

Despite only providing Bennett with two more months to live, interspecies transplants expert Dr. Muhammad Mohiuddin said the surgery has provided “invaluable insights” into genetically modified pig hearts as options for transplants in humans. “We remain optimistic and plan on continuing our work in future clinical trials,” Mohiuddin added.

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