A few months ago, David Bennett received a genetically engineered pig heart transplant. Unfortunately, he has since passed away. He survived the transplant, and lived for two months. The family knew his survival post-procedure was not guaranteed, but are thankful to the medical staff and center that provided this experimental treatment. Bennett’s cause of death was due to gradual decline in health that began seven days before he passed.
There was another case where a patient survived the transplantation of a baboon heart in 1984. Baby Mae of California lived 21 days after her transplant. Bennet sets a new record for time lived after a procedure like this one.
“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.”Dr. Muhammad Mohiuddin, scientific director of the Maryland University’s animal-to-human transplant program
Doctors are looking more and more into xenotransplantations because of the severe organ shortage happening. The pig that was used for Bennet’s transplant was genetically modified with human DNA so that his body would not reject it so quickly. Other transplants that have been attempted with just animal DNA saw a fast rejection rate, so this is where his transplant became unique.
Dr. Bartley Griffith, who performed the surgery at the Baltimore hospital said, “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.”