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Man Who Got First Pig Heart Transplant Dies

The first person to receive a heart transplant from a pig has died.  

This comes two months after he underwent the transplant. 

According to the University of Maryland medical centre, David Bennett, 57, took his final bow on Tuesday, March 8, adding that he was able to communicate with his family during his final hours. 

Senior doctors at the hospital did not reveal the exact cause of his death but hailed him for his contribution to advancing medical science by taking part in the surgery. 

Bennett underwent the experimental procedure in Baltimore, Maryland, after suffering from heart failure and being out of other options.  

The organ transplant demonstrated for the first time that a genetically-modified animal heart can function as a human heart without immediate rejection by the body. 

David Bennett underwent the experimental procedure in Baltimore, Maryland, after suffering from heart failure and being out of other options PHOTO/COURTESY

Bennett was deemed unfit for a conventional heart transplant or an artificial heart pump due to a life-threatening arrhythmia an irregular heartbeat condition that can lead to cardiac arrest or stroke. 

He was also connected to a heart-lung bypass machine, called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), to remain alive.

Doctors conducted a procedure called Xenotransplantation where they knocked out three genes responsible for rapid antibody-mediated rejection of pig organs by humans in the donor pig. 

And then six human genes responsible for immune acceptance of the pig heart – were inserted into the genome.

One additional gene in the pig was also knocked out to prevent excessive growth of the pig heart tissue, which totalled 10 unique gene edits made in the donor pig. 

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