Two months ago, David Bennett Sr. became the first-ever patient to receive a genetically modified pig heart transplant in a pioneering effort to treat his terminal heart disease. He died Tuesday afternoon.
The 57-year-old organ recipient called the milestone operation a “shot in the dark,” and a day prior to surgery had said, “it was either die or do this transplant.”
Shortly after the procedure, Bennett’s medical team deemed it a resounding success, noting that he was doing well and that his body hadn’t rejected the organ. However, according to a statement released Wednesday, his condition began deteriorating several days ago.
After it became clear he wouldn’t recover, Bennett was transferred to palliative care until his final moments, which he shared with family.
“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. We extend our sincerest condolences to his family,” Bartley P. Griffith, MD, who performed the transplant, said in the statement.
Before receiving the genetically modified pig heart, Bennett needed mechanical support to stay alive but was rejected for a standard heart transplant at the University of Maryland Medical Center and other centers.