The case attracted international attention. Earlier this year, American doctors transplanted a genetically modified pig’s heart to a doomed man in a world first. The 57-year-old David Bennett survived two months with it. It was not previously known why he died. Now the mystery seems solved: the pig used for the transplant could have been infected with a virus.
The case of David Bennett
It was initially a great success. David Bennett Sr. was near death in January after receiving a genetically modified pig heart in a landmark transplant.
A few days after his heart was replaced with a pig’s heart, Bennett sat loud MIT Technology Review already upright in his bed. His surgeon, Bartley Griffith of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, praised his new heart, saying it pumps fantastically and acts like a “rock star”.
After 40 days, the patient’s condition worsened. He was dead after two months. In a statement released by the university in March, a spokesman said there was “no apparent cause at the time of his death” and a full report was pending.
Reported now MIT Technology Reviewthat Bennett’s heart was infected with a virus that was devastating for transplants. A circumstance that could easily have been avoided. In future surgeries, doctors will ensure that gene-transplanted pig hearts are virus-free.