Pig Heart Saved a Human’s Life


Photography courtesy of University of Maryland School of Medicine

Marie Chabot

On January 7, surgeons from the University of Maryland transplanted a genetically modified pig heart on a seriously injured man.


 The fifty-seven years old man, David Bennett, who got the pig heart transplant and was still working, with terminal heart disease showed for the first time that it was possible for an animal heart to beat inside a human without an immediate rejection.


According to ‘’The Lancet’’, the surgery was led by Bartley Griffith,  a director of the cardiac transplant program at the university. The patient was first not eligible for human heart transplantation. This is the first time that this surgery has been executed and successfully done this is great news for medicine. Although it is positive for organs donations. 


The pig heart itself got 10 genetic changes, with a novel immunosuppressant given to the recipient and a cocaine-laced solution was inserted in the recipient to incubate the heart. 


34 years ago, this patient stabbed a man out of jealousy. In 1988, Edward Shumaker was stabbed 7 times by David Bennett, stayed paralyzed, and had to live in a wheelchair after this violent attack until he died in 2015 from a heart attack. The family of the victim thinks we can be proud of the doctors for the success but not of Mr. Bennett. ‘’He should not have been saved’’ said the sister’s victim.


For now, David Bennett is still living and started physical therapy. According to the science insider, it is still unclear how long or how well the heart will function.