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Maryland Native & Recipient Of First-Ever Genetically Modified Pig's Heart Transplant Dies

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- David Bennett, the first transplant recipient of a genetically modified pig's heart, died Tuesday, two months after his historic procedure.

Bennett, 57, became the first patient to undergo such a procedure Jan. 7 when he received the transplant. He passed away Tuesday afternoon, several days after his condition worsened, the University of Maryland Medical Center said.

"We are devastated by the loss of Mr. Bennett," Dr. Bartley Griffith, who performed the groundbreaking surgery, said. "He proved to be a brave and noble patient who fought all the way to the end. We extend our sincerest condolences to his family."

The Maryland native, who was diagnosed with terminal heart disease, had been a patient of UMMC since October. When Bennett didn't qualify for a human heart transplant, he was given another option: a genetically modified pig's heart.

The outcome of the first-of-its-kind procedure was promising. According to UMMC, Bennett's transplanted heart held up well for weeks with no sign of rejection before the 57-year-old's condition took a recent turn for the worse.

Over the past two months, Bennett got to spend time with his family and expressed a desire to return home so he could see his dog, Lucky, according to UMMC, which said he was able to communicate with loved ones before he passed.

"As with any first-in-the-world transplant surgery, this one led to valuable insights that will hopefully inform transplant surgeons to improve outcomes and potentially provide lifesaving benefits to future patients," Dr. Griffith said.

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