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Still Somewhat a Success

Doctors from the University of Maryland School of Medicine say that though David Bennett, who received a gene-edited pig heart, died of heart failure, the transplant work was a success, the Washington Post reports.

Bennett, who was in heart failure prior to the transplant and ineligible for a human heart transplant, underwent the surgery in January. The heart he received came from a pig that had undergone gene editing to lessen the likelihood of rejection. While Bennett initially did well after the transplant, he died about two months later. The Maryland doctors said in May, according to Technology Review, that Bennett appeared to be infected with porcine cytomegalovirus, even though the donor pig had been screened for it. Tech Review noted that, in baboons, pig hearts with porcine cytomegalovirus touch off an inflammatory response and swelling.

The Maryland physicians noted in the New England Journal of Medicine last month that Bennett died of heart failure but the underlying cause was unclear.

Still, the Post notes that the doctors consider the transplant a success. "But we don't consider this a setback," Maryland's Muhammad Mohiuddin, the co-leader of study, tells it. "We consider that he lived through the surgery the first win. When he seemed to be recovering and doing well for two months, we really thought that was a huge success. If we could have identified the reason his heart gave out suddenly, he might have walked out of the hospital."