Death of Man Who Received a Pig-Heart Transplant Remains a Mystery

Doctors can’t fully explain the death of the first recipient of a genetically modified pig heart, but they offered several theories in a new study—and said clinical trials of pig-to-human organ transplantation should begin despite the continuing mystery.

David Bennett, a 57-year-old handyman from Hagerstown, Md., received the heart in an experimental operation in January at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore and died two months later. The surgery—an attempt to extend the life of a desperately ill patient who had been kept alive for weeks on a machine that took over the functions of his heart and lungs—came after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a special emergency authorization for it.

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