Second Pig Heart Recipient Dies

Lawrence Faucette, the 58-year-old man with terminal heart disease who received the world’s second genetically modified pig heart transplant, passed away on October 30, 2023 the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), Baltimore, reports in a statement.

Faucette, a former lab tech who was turned down repeatedly for a standard allograft transplantation due to his various medical conditions, received the pig heart transplant on September 20, 2023.

Faucette first came to UMMC as a patient on September 14. When he was admitted, he was in end-stage heart failure. Shortly before the surgery, his heart stopped, and he required resuscitation.

On September 15, the US Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency authorization for the surgery through its single-patient investigational new drug compassionate use pathway. 

“My only real hope left is to go with the pig heart, the xenotransplant,” said Faucette in an interview from his hospital room a few days before his surgery. “At least now I have hope, and I have a chance.”

Faucette made “significant progress” in the month after the surgery, participating in physical therapy and spending time with family, according to the university. But in the days before his passing, the heart showed signs of rejection.

“Mr Faucette’s last wish was for us to make the most of what we have learned from our experience, so others may be guaranteed a chance for a new heart when a human organ is unavailable,” said Bartley P. Griffith, MD, who transplanted the pig heart into Faucette at UMMC. “He then told the team of doctors and nurses who gathered around him that he loved us. We will miss him tremendously.”

Muhammad M. Mohiuddin, MD, professor of surgery and scientific/program director of the Cardiac Xenotransplantation Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said that, “Mr Faucette was a scientist who not only read and interpreted his own biopsies, but who understood the important contribution he was making in advancing the field.

“As with the first patient, David Bennett, Sr, we intend to conduct an extensive analysis to identify factors that can be prevented in future transplants; this will allow us to continue to move forward and educate our colleagues in the field on our experience,” Mohiuddin added.

The researchers don’t plan to make further comment until their investigation is complete, a university spokesperson told | Medscape Cardiology.

UMMC performed the first transplant of a genetically modified pig heart in January 2022. David Bennett, the recipient of that heart, survived for 60 days. The researchers published their initial findings in The New England Journal of Medicine, and then the results of their follow-up investigation in The Lancet.

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