David Bennett, the 57-year-old man who was given a genetically-modified pig heart in a historic transplant in January, passed away Tuesday.
The University of Maryland Medical Center, the hospital where Bennett had been recovering from the surgery for two months, was unable to provide a precise cause of death, reported USA Today. The university’s medical school’s press release stated that his condition “began deteriorating several days ago,” and researchers will reportedly conduct a review to determine what caused the 57-year-old’s death, according to USA Today.
Deborah Kotz, the hospital’s spokeswoman, said the results of the investigation will be published in a peer-reviewed journal, the outlet reported. (RELATED: Surgeons Give 57-Year-Old Man A Functioning Pig Heart In Historic Procedure)
“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,” Bennett’s son, David Jr., said in the press release, after thanking the hospital and his father’s doctors for their efforts.
“We are grateful for every innovative moment, every crazy dream, every sleepless night that went into this historic effort,” the son also said. “We pray that those looking for hope will continue to fight for the future, fight for new ideas, fight for answers, fight for life. Fight like Dave.”
First person to receive pig heart transplant dies. The University of Maryland announced that the 57-year-old man died Tuesday, two months after the groundbreaking experiment. https://t.co/aRlqUpP5yL
— Marie Coronel (@10NewsCoronel) March 9, 2022
Bennett was suffering from terminal heart disease and had been bedridden for approximately two months prior to the historic surgery, according to WMAR 2 News. He was deemed an unsuitable candidate for a human heart transplant and, after being informed of the risks, agreed to be the first person to receive a genetically-modified pig heart, The Associated Press reported.
“It was either die or do this transplant,” Bennett said a day before his January surgery, according to a press release. “I want to live. I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice.” (REPORT: Dad In Desperate Need Of Heart Transplant Denied After Refusing Vaccine)
The Food and Drug Administration granted permission for the surgery under its “compassionate use” provision, as it was the only option available to save Bennett’s life, according to the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
In the days following the transplant, the pig heart was functioning well and showed no immediate signs of rejection, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The hospital provided a handful of updates on Bennett, including a video released in February showing him watching the Super Bowl and singing “America the Beautiful.”
Dr. Bartley Griffith, the surgeon who conducted the transplant, said he and his team were “devastated by the loss of Mr. Bennett.” (RELATED: NYT, Washington Post Slammed For Debating Whether Criminals Should Receive Healthcare)
“Mr. Bennett became known by millions of people around the world for his courage and steadfast will to live,” Griffith said, according to a press release. “He proved to be a brave and noble patient who fought all the way to the end. We extend our sincerest condolences to his family.”