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Patient dies in groundbreaking heart transplant

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Patient dies in groundbreaking heart transplant

The first man to replace his failing heart with a genetically altered pig in a groundbreaking operation died on Tuesday afternoon at the University of Maryland Medical Center, two months after transplant surgery.

David Bennett Sr., who lived in Maryland, was 57 years old. He had severe heart disease, and agreed to receive an experimental pig heart after being rejected from several waiting lists to receive a human heart.

It was unclear whether his body had rejected the foreign organ. “No clear cause was identified at the time of his death,” a hospital spokesman said.

Hospital officials said they could not comment further on the cause of death, as their doctors were yet to conduct a thorough investigation. They plan to publish the results in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Dr Bartley Griffith, the surgeon who performed the transplant, said hospital staff were “devastated” by the loss of Mr Bennett.

Dr. Griffith said, “He proved to be a brave and noble patient who fought to the end.” “Mr. Bennett is known to millions around the world for his courage and determination to live.”

Heart transplantation was one of several pioneering procedures in recent months in which organs from genetically altered pigs were used to replace organs in humans. The procedure, called xenotransplantation, offers new hope for thousands of patients with ailing kidney, heart and other organs, as there is an acute shortage of donated organs.

Mr Bennett’s transplant was initially considered successful. This is still considered an important step, as the pig heart was not immediately rejected and continued to function for more than a month, passing an important milestone for transplant patients.

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Some 41,354 Americans received a transplanted organ last year, more than half of them a kidney, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, a nonprofit that coordinates the nation’s organ procurement efforts.

Credit…David Bennett, via The Associated Press

But there is an acute shortage of organs, and a dozen or more people die every day on the waiting list. Nearly 3,800 Americans received replacement human donor hearts last year, more than ever before, but demand remains high.

Scientists are trying to create pigs whose organs will not be rejected by the human body, a research effort that has gained steam over the past decade due to new gene editing and cloning technologies.

New York surgeons announced in October that they had successfully attached a kidney grown in a genetically altered pig to a brain-dead human patient, finding that the organ functions normally and produces urine for up to 54 hours. Is.

In January, surgeons at the University of Alabama at Birmingham reported that they had successfully transplanted a kidney from a genetically modified pig into the stomach of a 57-year-old brain-dead man for the first time. The kidneys worked and produced urine for three days.

UAB surgeons said they hope to begin a small clinical trial with live human patients by the end of the year.

Shortly after Mr Bennett’s heart surgery in January, The Washington Post reported that he had a criminal record stemming from an assault 34 years earlier, in which he repeatedly stabbed a young man out of jealousy, leaving him paralyzed.

Victim Edward Shumaker spent two decades in a wheelchair, was paralyzed from the waist down, and suffered a number of medical complications, including a stroke that left him cognitively disabled, before his death at age 40 in 2007. According to Sister Leslie Shumaker Downey, Frederick Kay, MD.

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Mr. Bennett’s son, David Bennett Jr., who was a child at the time of the stabbing, has said that he does not want to discuss his father’s past, and has insisted that his father contribute to medical science by undergoing experimental implants. and expressed the hope of “potentially saving a patient’s life in the future”.

The heart given to Mr. Bennett came from a genetically altered pig provided by Revivcor, a regenerative medicine company based in Blacksburg, Va.

The pig underwent 10 genetic modifications. Four genes were knocked down, or inactivated, including one that encodes a molecule that causes the aggressive human rejection response.

Another gene was also inactivated to prevent the pig’s heart from growing after it was transplanted. In addition, six human genes were inserted into the genome of the donor pig—modifications designed to make the pig’s organs more tolerable to the human immune system.

On New Year’s Eve, the Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency authorization for the experimental surgery, which was performed a week later.

The transplanted heart initially performed well, and there were no signs of rejection for several weeks. Hospital officials said Mr Bennett spent time with his family, underwent physical therapy and watched the Super Bowl.

But he was not discharged and his condition started deteriorating several days ago, hospital officials said.

His son issued a statement thanking the hospital and the staff for the whole effort on his father’s part.

“We hope this story can be the beginning of hope and not the end,” Mr. Bennett said. “We also hope that what was learned from his surgery will benefit future patients and hopefully, one day, end the organ shortage that costs so many lives each year.”

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