The man successfully received the pig ‘s organ to stay alive, but a few months later he passed away suddenly.
The man who successfully received the pig heart may have died due to contracting a pig virus.
David Bennett was given the genetically modified pig organ because it was supporting serious heart disease , in one of the greatest feats of science in recent years. However, he passed away two months later, in March, of unknown causes.
However, the MIT Technology Review has now pointed out what happened on that occasion that led to the subject’s death.
a pig virus
Bennett’s transplant surgeon told a webinar that the heart was infected with porcine cytomegalovirus , a virus that does not infect human cells but can damage the organ.
Bennett received a heart from the biotech company Revivicor, which produces genetically modified pigs. They are supposed to be virus-free, but this particular virus can be difficult to detect, said Joachim Denner, a virologist at the Free University of Berlin.
It is still unclear what role the virus played in Bennett’s death . But if he died from the virus, and not because his body rejected the organ, groups working on xenotransplantation probably won’t have to rethink their overall strategy.
“If this was an infection, we can probably prevent it in the future,” said Bartley Griffith, the transplant surgeon, during his presentation.
In October 2021 Bennett was admitted to the University of Maryland hospital. He was bedridden and connected to an emergency life support machine. He was deemed ineligible for a human transplant, which occurs when the recipient has poor underlying health.
After surgery, the transplanted heart functioned very well for several weeks with no signs of rejection.
Bennett spent time with his family, participated in physical therapy sessions, watched the football Super Bowl and spoke often about wanting to go home to see his dog Lucky.