Pig Used in Human Heart Transplant Had Virus, Patient 'Looked Infected'


By Hannah Osborne, Newsweek



The pig that was used in the first human heart transplant was infected with a porcine virus that may have contributed to the death of the patient, experts have said, with the surgeon that treated him saying David Bennett Sr. "looked infected."


Bennett received a pig heart in a groundbreaking surgery that took place in Maryland in January. The 57-year-old had been suffering from terminal heart disease and the operation was a last ditch attempt at saving his life. Bennett died on March 8, two months after the surgery, the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) confirmed in a statement.


Muhammad M. Mohiuddin, professor of surgery and scientific director of the Cardiac Xenotransplantation Program at UMSOM, said Bennett's surgery had provided "invaluable insights" into how a genetically modified pig heart functions in the human body.


"We remain optimistic and plan on continuing our work in future clinical trials," he said in a statement. At the time, a hospital spokesperson said there was "no obvious cause" for his death.


However, according to a report in the MIT Technology Review, experts have now found that the pig used in the transplant was carrying a porcine virus that may have contributed to Bennett's death.


Presence of a Virus ...