A Maryland native and the first person to ever receive a transplant of a genetically modified pig's heart died on Tuesday, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
David Bennett, 57, underwent the landmark surgery on January 7th. According to the medical staff at UMMC, the outcome appeared positive and the heart appeared to be holding up with no signs of rejection from his body. However, several days ago, Bennett's health took a turn for the worse and he died, sadly.
Dr. Bartley Griffith, who performed the surgery reportedly told WJZ13, "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."
Bennett was a patient at UMMC starting in October after he was diagnosed with terminal heart disease. When he didn't qualify to be the recipient of a human heart transplant, he was offered to be the first to receive a genetically modified pig's heart.
"As with any first-in-the-world transplant surgery, this one led to valuable insights that will hopefully inform transplant surgeons to improve outcomes and potentially provide lifesaving benefits to future patients," added Dr. Griffith.
Bennett's son, David Jr., credited the hospital with saving his dad's life. He told FOX Baltimore, "Their exhaustive efforts and energy, paired with my dad’s insatiable will to live, created a hopeful environment during an uphill climb. Up until the end, my father wanted to continue fighting to preserve his life and spend more time with his beloved family. We are grateful for every innovative moment, every crazy dream, every sleepless night that went into this historic effort."
No exact cause of death was revealed.