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Doctor Reveals Cause of Death of Pig Heart Transplant Patient Not Organ Rejection

KOMPAS.com – David Bennett, 57, is the first person in the world to receive a transplant pig heart early last year, but died two months later.

Doctors say Bennett died of heart failure due to several factors, not organ rejection. This was revealed by a team of doctors from the University of Maryland Medicine, in their latest report.

“Our findings at autopsy showed no evidence of rejection,” said study leader, who is also a professor at the University of Maryland Medicine School of Medicine, Dr Bartley Griffith. NBC News, Thursday (7/7/2022).

“Instead, we see thickening and hardening of the heart muscle leading to diastolic heart failure, which means the heart muscle can’t relax and fill the heart with blood as it should.”

Also read: World’s First Pig Heart Transplant Patient Dies

It said heart failure may have occurred because Bennett had to take medication to prevent rejection reactions and infections. This drug is likely to trigger damage to the heart muscle.

“His heart was also found showing evidence of DNA from a latent swine virus called porcine cytomegalovirus (pCMV),” he added.

Evidence of the existence of the virus became known after the team carried out highly sensitive tests. The presence of the virus has actually been detected since Bennett was still alive, namely a few weeks after the transplant operation was carried out.

Meanwhile, to prove whether the virus damages the heart, it is being investigated by the treating team of doctors.

They said infection control measures were in place and the heart had been tested before the transplant.

“We consider this an important learning experience. Knowing what is known today, we will change some of the practices and techniques in the future,” explained one of the study leaders, Dr Muhammad M. Mohiuddin.

Also read: Pig Heart Transplant Patient Dies Suspected of Swine Virus

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