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David Bennett, the 57-year-old who took heart last January, passed away

David Bennett, the 57-year-old who took heart last January, passed away

David Bennett’s dream to live, being the world’s first man, continued just over two months later organ transplant from heart pig genetically modified. Unable to receive a human heart, and bedridden on life support devices, the 57-year-old had surgery on January 7 at a hospital in Maryland, US, in a last-ditch effort to save his life. And he died today in the same hospital, according to what was reported by ABC News, for undisclosed reasons, after his health condition gradually deteriorated a few days ago.

Bennett was the first man to receive a pig heart genetically engineered to avoid organ rejection: an earlier known month dates back to 1984, when baby Faye survived for 21 days with a monkey heart. The biggest problem then was rejection and the tools to overcome it came from genetics, with the ability to modify the DNA of animals to make their organs compatible with the human body. Previous attempts at this type of transplant – called xenografts – have in fact largely failed because patients’ bodies quickly rejected the animal organ.

Doubts about xenografts

This time, Maryland surgeons used a genetically modified pig’s heart: Scientists modified the animal to remove the pig’s genes that lead to very rapid rejection and added human genes to help the body accept the organ. At first, Bennett’s new heart seemed to be working, and the first hospital handouts were encouraging. But then his condition worsened. Bennett’s son, according to the ABC News website, has praised the Maryland hospital for trying to eventually transplant a pig’s heart, noting that the family hopes it will lead to more efforts to stem the organ shortage.

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The need for another source of organs in the United States is enormous. More than 41,000 transplants were performed in the United States last year, a record number, including about 3,800 heart transplants. But more than 106,000 people are still on the national waiting list, thousands die each year before getting a member, and thousands more aren’t added to the list, which is considered too long. Dr. Mohamed Mohieldin, scientific director of the Human and Animal Transplant Program at the University of Maryland, said: “From Bennett’s experience, we gained invaluable insights into knowing that a genetically modified pig heart can function well inside the human body. While the immune system was suppressed enough “