David Bennett (57) suffered from terminal heart disease, but survived by becoming the first human ever to have a pig heart implanted. To the horror of the family of one Edward Shumaker, it now appears: that man was stabbed in 1988 by the then 23-year-old Bennett in Hagerstown, near Washington DC. The futile reason: Bennett’s wife at the time had sat on Shumaker’s lap. Bennett then stabbed Shumaker several times in the chest, abdomen and back.
The man ended up in a wheelchair, and not much later died of a heart attack. Bennett was convicted of assault and battery and received a 10-year prison sentence, but was acquitted of murder. A drama that has still not been digested by Shumaker’s family. “That heart should have gone to someone else, someone who deserved it,” says his sister Leslie. “Ed just suffered after that. While Bennett was allowed to lead a beautiful life. And now he even gets a second chance with a new heart.”
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The hospital that performed the procedure at Bennett, the University of Maryland Medical Center, would not comment on the man’s criminal history. “But the key principle in healthcare is that we treat everyone who is sick,” said New York University bioethics professor Arthur Caplan. “We make no distinction between saints and sinners.”