The operation was performed on January 7, 2022 at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Surgeons have successfully transplanted a genetically modified pig heart into 57-year-old David Bennett, who has a terminal heart disease. At first the patient felt well, but after two months his condition began to deteriorate, and he died two days ago.
Bennett was aware of the risks associated with the operation, but for him it was the only chance – for several months before the operation he was bedridden, and his life was supported with the help of special equipment.
After having a heart transplant, he spent time with his family, watched TV and talked about his desire to go home with his dog Lucky. “He has proven to be a brave and honorable patient who fought to the end,” Surgeon Bartley Griffiths, who performed the transplant, said in a statement. David Jr., Bennett’s son, said he hopes his father’s transplant is the beginning of hope, not the end.
This transplant showed that the heart of a genetically modified animal can function like a human heart without immediate rejection by the body. Three genes were removed from the donor pig, which are responsible for the human immune system’s rejection of pigs’ organs. One gene was removed to prevent overgrowth of pig heart tissue. Six human genes responsible for immune sensitivity were also added.
“We lack human donor hearts. “We are moving forward with caution and believe that this first-of-its-kind operation will provide patients with important new opportunities in the future,” said surgeon Bartley Griffiths immediately after the transplant.