Man given a PIG’s heart in world-first transplant may have died as the organ was infected

Medics undertake pig heart transplant into patient in 2022

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Mr Bennet went under the scalpel in January as the first person to receive a heart transplant from a genetically-modified pig. This surgery was conducted at the University of Maryland Medical Centre.

Sadly, the handyman died two months after undergoing this landmark operation.

Doctors at Maryland Medical Centre thought there was “no obvious cause identified at the time of his death” at first.

However, the lead surgeon has now suggested the heart might have been infected with porcine cytomegalovirus.

This virus is thought to be a pathogen, targeting domestic pigs.

Mr Bennett suffered from heart failure prior to the transplant.

After he died, the hospital explained that his condition simply worsened but they didn’t provide an exact cause of death.

However, Bartley Griffith, Bennett’s transplant surgeon, shared that the pig’s heart might have been infected with a pig virus.

Mr Griffith detailed the virus and attempts to treat it in a webinar hosted by the American Society of Transplantation on April 20, according to the MIT Technology Review.

“We are beginning to learn why he passed on,” said Griffith during the webinar.

He added that the virus might have been what “set this whole thing off”.

“If this was an infection, we can likely prevent it in the future,” Griffith noted.

Revivicor, the biotech firm that raised and engineered the pigs, declined to comment to MIT Technology Review and has not made a public statement about the claims.

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