American David Bennett, 57, who became The first person in the world to receive a genetically modified heart transplant from a pigHe died yesterday afternoon at the University of Maryland Medical Center in the United States, two months after surgery.
According to the New York Times, it was not clear if Bennett’s body had rejected the member. “There was no clear cause that was identified at the time of his death,” a hospital spokeswoman said.
Hospital officials said they could not comment further on the cause of death because doctors had not yet conducted a full examination. They plan to publish the results in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
Bennett had a serious heart condition and agreed to receive an experimental pig heart after being rejected from multiple waiting lists to receive a human heart—the decision often made when the patient was in very poor health.
“Either she died or she had this transplant,” he explained the day before the surgery in January. “I know it’s a remote chance, but it’s my last option.”
Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center received a special license from the US medical regulator to perform the procedure.
Bartley Griffiths, the surgeon who performed the transplant, said hospital staff were “shocked” at the loss of Bennett. “Mr Bennett has become known to millions of people around the world for his courage and strong will to live,” the newspaper said.
Bennett’s transplant was initially considered successful. At the time of the surgery, Griffiths said the operation brought the world “one step closer to resolving the organ shortage crisis.”
The pig’s heart was chosen because it resembles a human heart. The donor animal has been genetically modified to eliminate proteins that can cause immediate rejection of the recipient patient.
Although the procedure represents an impressive advance, Experts cautioned about the need to prove its long-term efficacy.
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