First pig heart transplant patient, David Bennett dies

David Bennett, who received a pig’s heart in a groundbreaking experimental surgery on 10 January 2022, has died two months after the operation. 

The 57-year-old of Maryland underwent the groundbreaking operation – the first of its kind – after being deemed ineligible for a normal heart transplant. 


For about two months, the heart of a genetically modified pig kept him alive.

The University of Maryland School of Medicine said his condition began deteriorating several days ago. After it became clear that he would not recover, he was given compassionate palliative care. He was able to communicate with his family during his final hours.

Dr Bartley P. Griffith, who surgically transplanted the pig heart into Bennett at the University of Maryland Medical Centre (UMMC) said they are devastated by the loss. 

“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.” 


According to the Maryland Medical Centre, Bennett first came to the centre as a patient in October 2021. 

He was bedridden and placed on a heart-lung bypass machine, called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), to remain alive. 

He was deemed ineligible for a conventional heart transplant. Before consenting to receive the transplant, Bennett, was fully informed of the procedure’s risks, and that the procedure was experimental with unknown risks and benefits. 

“On December 31, the US Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency authorization for the surgery in the hope of saving his life.

Following surgery, the transplanted heart performed very well for several weeks without any signs of rejection. The patient was able to spend time with his family and participate in physical therapy to help regain strength. He watched the Super Bowl with his physical therapist and spoke often about wanting to get home to his dog Lucky.”

Family spokesperson and the deceased’s son, David Bennett, Jr. said they are profoundly grateful for the life-extending opportunity provided to their father.

“Their exhaustive efforts and energy, paired with my dad’s insatiable will to live, created a hopeful environment during an uphill climb. We were able to spend some precious weeks together while he recovered from the transplant surgery, weeks we would not have had without this miraculous effort.”

David Bennett Jr

ALSO READ: ‘Historic’: US surgeons successfully implant pig heart in human

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