Lawrence Faucette, the second person to undergo a groundbreaking genetically modified pig heart transplant, has passed away approximately six weeks after the experimental procedure. The University of Maryland Medical Center, where the surgery took place, reported recent signs of heart rejection.
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Dr. Bartley Griffith, clinical director of the Cardiac Xenotransplantation Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, who performed the surgery, shared Faucette’s last wish to advance the field and expressed their deep sense of loss.
Faucette, 58, received the transplant after being deemed ineligible for a human heart due to heart disease and pre-existing conditions. His wife, Ann Faucette, had hoped for more quality time with him following the surgery.
Initially, Faucette showed promising progress after the transplant, with excellent heart function and no signs of rejection or infection. Doctors had used experimental treatments to suppress the immune system and prevent rejection.
However, despite these efforts, Faucette’s condition deteriorated, leading to his passing. His courageous journey aimed to provide insights into xenotransplants and offer hope to patients on organ transplant waiting lists.
The University of Maryland had previously conducted a similar experimental surgery in January 2022 on David Bennett, who also passed away two months later due to complex factors, including his pre-existing condition. A case study in the Lancet noted the presence of unidentified pig virus in Bennett’s case.
With over 113,000 people on the organ transplant list and a shortage of donor organs, such groundbreaking procedures hold potential to save lives, despite the challenges they pose.”