Health and Science

Man who got heart transplant from genetically modified pig dies 2 months later

David K. Li
In this photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, David Bennett Jr., right, stands next to his father's hospital bed in Baltimore, Md., on Jan. 12, 2022, five days after doctors transplanted a pig heart into Bennett Sr., in a last-ditch effort to save his life.
University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP

A man who received a first-of-its-kind heart transplant from a genetically modified pig died Tuesday, two months after the groundbreaking procedure.

Doctors the University of Maryland Medical Center said on Wednesday that David Bennett, 57, died the day before, after his "condition began deteriorating several days ago."

"After it became clear that he would not recover, he was given compassionate palliative care," the hospital said. "He was able to communicate with his family during his final hours."

Bennett's cause of death is not yet known, and it's still unclear whether it was connected to any complications from the heart transplant.

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Bennett's son thanked his father's doctors for their efforts, according to a statement he released through the hospital.

"Their exhaustive efforts and energy, paired with my dad's insatiable will to live, created a hopeful environment during an uphill climb," David Bennett Jr. said. "Up until the end, my father wanted to continue fighting to preserve his life and spend more time with his beloved family, including his two sisters, his two children, and his five grandchildren, and his cherished dog Lucky. 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."

The Food and Drug Administration gave emergency authorization on New Year's Eve for Bennett to receive a genetically modified pig heart, the hospital said. The surgery was completed on Jan. 7.

Before the transplant, Bennett had been hospitalized for six weeks with a life-threatening arrhythmia and had been connected to a heart-lung bypass machine.