US: A Maryland man who was the first person to receive a transplanted pig heart died Tuesday, two months after the groundbreaking surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Officials at the Baltimore hospital said David Bennett began deteriorating a few days ago and was given palliative care. He was able to communicate with his family, the officials said.
The animal-to-human transplant, or xenotransplant, was offered to Bennett, a 57-year-old parent with terminal heart disease. He had come to the hospital in October 2021 seriously ill and was placed on a lifesaving heart-lung machine but deemed ineligible for a conventional heart transplant. Bennett was offered the transplant of the genetically modified pig heart, an experimental procedure given emergency authorization December 31 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He underwent the procedure Jan. 7.
Pig heart transplants are not approved by the FDA, but the surgery was done under the agency’s expanded access provision, otherwise known as “compassionate use,” because Bennett had terminal heart disease and other options were not available.
After the transplant, he spent time with his family and participated in physical therapy. Officials said he often spoke of wanting to go home to his dog.
David Bennett Jr., Bennett’s son, said his family was “profoundly grateful for the life-extending opportunity” by the hospital and staff.
Bennett survived significantly longer with the gene-edited pig heart than one of the last milestones in xenotransplantation — when Baby Fae, a dying California infant, lived 21 days with a baboon’s heart in 1984.