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Maryland man, second recipient of pig heart transplant dies following surgery

Maryland man, second recipient of pig heart transplant dies following surgery
Maryland man, second recipient of pig heart transplant dies following surgery 02:13

BALTIMORE -- A Maryland man has died after receiving the world's second genetically-modified pig-heart transplant, the University of Maryland Medical Center said Tuesday.

Lawrence Faucette, 58, was a U.S. Navy veteran from Frederick, Maryland.  He was dying from heart failure and ineligible for a traditional heart transplant when UMMC doctors offered the highly experimental surgery. 

Faucetete told WJZ that his decision to participate in the experimental surgery was rooted in his love for his family.

"I will fight tooth and nail for every breath I can take so I can stay with them longer, but realistically this is still an early-stage learning process and I have to be ready to accept any outcome we end up with," he said.

"We mourn the loss of Mr. Faucette, a remarkable patient, scientist, Navy veteran, and family man who just wanted a little more time to spend with his loving wife, sons, and family," Bartley Griffith, the Cardiothoracic surgeon who performed the transplant on Faucette said.      

Faucette received the transplant on September 20, meaning he survived for nearly six weeks after the procedure. 

Earlier this month, UMMC said Faucette was working hard to recover from the surgery, doing physical therapy, and working on regaining his ability to walk. 

"Mr. Faucette had made significant progress after his surgery, engaging in physical therapy, spending time with family members, and playing cards with his wife, Ann. In recent days, his heart began to show initial signs of rejection – the most significant challenge with traditional transplants involving human organs as well," UMMC said.  "Despite the medical team's greatest efforts, Mr. Faucette ultimately succumbed on October 30." 

Related Coverage:

UMMC surgeons performed the world's first transplant of a heart from a genetically altered pig into another dying man last year. 

David Bennett, 57, survived just two months before that heart failed, for reasons that aren't completely clear, although signs of a pig virus later were found inside the organ. 

Lessons from that first experiment led to changes before this second try, including better virus testing.

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