BALTIMORE – The first person to receive a pig heart transplanted into their body died two months after the groundbreaking and historic surgery.
David Bennett had the experimental, eight-hour surgery to implant the pig heart at the University of Maryland Medical Center in January, as part of a last-ditch effort to save his life, as we previously reported.
Bennett died at the same hospital, but doctors didn’t give a specific cause of death, only saying that Bennett’s health had started to deteriorate days earlier, The Associated Press reported. Hospital officials told The New York Times that Bennett’s doctors would conduct a thorough examination and would publish the results in a medical journal.
“We are grateful for every innovative moment, every crazy dream, every sleepless night that went into this historic effort,” David Bennett Jr., Bennett’s son, said in a statement, The Associated Press reported. “We hope this story can be the beginning of hope and not the end.”
Bennett had suffered from severe heart disease prior to the experimental surgery, and agreed to receive the pig heart after he was rejected from multiple waiting lists for a human one, The New York Times reported.
In a statement, hospital officials said the transplanted heart worked well for several weeks with no sign of rejection, allowing Bennett to spend time with his family and undergo physical therapy.
“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,” Dr. Bartley Griffith, one of Bennett’s doctors, said in a statement from the hospital. “Mr. Bennett became known by millions of people around the world for his courage and steadfast will to live.”