The second individual who had a transplanted heart from a pig has died, almost six weeks after the experimental surgery, as disclosed by his doctors in Maryland on Tuesday.
Due to ineligibility for a human heart transplant, 58-year-old Lawrence Faucette received a genetically engineered pig heart on September 20.
According to researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the heart worked well for the first month but recently began showing signs of rejection. Faucette passed away on Monday.
Ann, Faucette’s wife, said in a statement provided by the hospital that her husband recognized the shortness of time he had left and appreciated the opportunity to give back to the community before he passed away. He had no idea he’d be around for as long as he was.
In 2017, a team from the University of Maryland successfully transplanted a heart from a genetically modified pig into a dying man, making history. David Bennett made it for two months before his heart gave out on him for unknown reasons; later, evidence of a pig virus was discovered within the organ. As a result of what was learned during the pilot study, enhancements were made to virus testing for the second effort.
Dr. Bartley Griffith, the transplant surgeon who oversaw the procedure at the University of Maryland Medical Center, said in a statement that Mr. Faucette’s dying request was for everyone involved to benefit as much as possible from their work.
Due to the initial rejection of the alien tissue by the human immune system, xenotransplants (organ transplants from animals to humans) have proven unsuccessful for many years. Once again, scientists are trying to improve the human-like qualities of pig organs by using genetically modified pigs.
With no other options and a strong desire to spend more time with his family, Faucette, a Navy veteran and father of two from Frederick, Maryland, he arrived at the Maryland hospital.
The hospital announced Faucette’s ability to stand and released a video of him undergoing rigorous physical therapy in mid-October.
The team will look at the heart and do more research.
There is a critical shortage of human organs, and many scientists believe that xenotransplants will help solve this problem in the future. More than 100 thousand Americans are waiting for a transplant, the vast majority for a kidney. Thousands of people will tragically perish as they wait.