Scientists found the cause of death of a man with a transplanted pig heart
A man from Maryland who underwent a heart transplant from a pig to a human was infected with a swine virus, scientists at the University of Maryland Medical School found out, as reported by The New York Times on Thursday, May 5.
David Bennett Sr. underwent surgery in January 2022. His new heart functioned for two months, but scientists believe that the cause of the man’s death could be a pig virus, as there were no signs of organ rejection.
Dr. Bartley Griffith, a transplant surgeon at the University of Maryland Medical School, performed a unique operation and also reported a complication that may have led to death.
According to Griffith, the presence of virus DNA in the patient could contribute to a sudden deterioration of the condition more than a month after transplantation. But there was no evidence that the patient had developed an active viral infection or that his body had rejected the modified pig heart.
According to the publication, the staff of the University of Maryland tested the animal for viruses, and the pig cytomegalovirus, which, according to scientists, could have played a role in Bennett’s death, was not detected before the heart transplant procedure.
Griffith recalled that Bennett had an incurable heart disease and was not eligible for a human heart transplant due to a shortage of human organs, as he had not previously followed doctor’s orders.
“We started to think that the virus, which appeared very early, on the 20th day, as an outbreak, began to develop and eventually took over everything. On day 45, he [the patient] looked really scared. Something has happened. He looked sick. He lost interest in everything and didn’t want to talk to us. He was lying in bed, breathing heavily, he had a slight fever,” the surgeon said.