David Bennett, a 57-year-old man from Maryland with a life-threatening heart condition, has become the first person in the world to undergo a successful animal-to-human heart transplant.
The University of Maryland School of Medicine performed the operation. Bert O’Malley, president and CEO of the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore praised the groundbreaking procedure. “We appreciate the tremendous courage of this live recipient, who has made an extraordinary decision to participate in this groundbreaking procedure to not only potentially extend his own life, but also for the future benefit of others,” he said in a statement.
Other animal-to-human transplants have been attempted, but this marks the first one in which the recipient has not rejected the genetically modified heart.
Bartley Griffith, the doctor who performed the transplant, said the successful procedure “will provide an important new option for patients in the future,” considering the shortage of donated human organs.
“This was a breakthrough surgery and brings us one step closer to solving the organ shortage crisis,” Griffith said in a statement. “There are simply not enough donor human hearts available to meet the long list of potential recipients.”
Bennett had been suffering from end-stage heart disease, meaning a transplant was necessary to survive. “It was either die or do this transplant. I want to live. I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice,” Bennett said in a statement the day before undergoing surgery.
Image source: People
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