Bennet Chose Pig’s Heart Since “It Was Either Die or Do This Transplant”

(p. A3) A man who had the first transplant to replace his human heart with a genetically-modified pig’s heart without immediate rejection died Tuesday afternoon at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, two months after the groundbreaking surgery.

. . .

While Mr. Bennett only lived with the pig heart for a couple of months, Dr. Parsia Vagefi, UT Southwestern Medical Center’s chief of the division of surgical transplantation, said people shouldn’t view the transplant as a failure and that he hopes it serves as a “new beginning” for xenotransplantation.

“I think what this shows is just the enormous amount of progress that’s been made and hopefully it’s just the beginning that we continue to grow on,” he said.

Mr. Bennett wasn’t eligible for a more typical heart transplant because he didn’t comply with doctors’ orders or attend follow-up visits. Several transplant centers—including the Maryland one—declined to list him for the chance to get a human heart, according to David Bennett Jr. , Mr. Bennett’s son. He also didn’t regularly take his medication, the younger Mr. Bennett previously said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had granted Mr. Bennett’s operation emergency authorization on New Year’s Eve. “It was either die or do this transplant,” he said the day before his surgery, according to the University of Maryland Medicine. The handyman and father of two called the transplant his “last choice.”

For the full story, see:

Allison Prang. “Pig-Heart Recipient Dies 2 Months Later.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, March 10, 2022): A3.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated March 9, 2022, and has the title “The Patient Who Received a Pig Heart Dies Two Months After Transplant.” The first two sentences after the ellipsis appear in the online, but not the print, version.)

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