The second person to receive a heart transplant from a genetically modified pig heart has died after nearly six weeks. He was 58.
CNN International reported that The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), where the experimental procedure on Lawrence Faucette had been performed, said the heart began to show signs of rejection in recent days.
“Mr. Faucette’s last wish was for us to make the most of what we have learned from our experience, so others may be guaranteed a chance for a new heart when a human organ is unavailable,” read the statement from Dr. Bartley Griffith, who performed the surgery. “He then told the team of doctors and nurses who gathered around him that he loved us. We will miss him tremendously.”
Faucette was first admitted to the UMMC in September after experiencing heart failure symptoms. He underwent the experimental transplant after six days, as his heart disease and pre-existing conditions made him ineligible for a human heart transplant.
Weeks after the transplant, doctors said Faucette was making “significant progress,” as he participated in physical therapy and spent time with his family.
A month after the surgery, doctors noted his heart function was “excellent” and withdrew drugs, as there was “no evidence” of infections and rejection.
But the UMMC, in its statement, still noted that organ rejection is “the most significant challenge with traditional transplants involving human organs as well.”
In 2022, the same institution performed a pig heart transplant on David Bennett, who died two months after the procedure. He was 57.
The UMMC said there were no initial signs of rejections in the first few weeks following the transplant.
An autopsy, however, concluded Bennett died of heart failure from “a complex array of factors,” including his prior medical condition.