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Hospital: Poor health only criteria for pig heart transplant

Associated Press logoAssociated Press 3 days ago
In this photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, members of the surgical team show the pig heart for transplant into patient David Bennett in Baltimore on Friday, Jan. 7, 2022. On Monday, Jan. 10, 2022 the hospital said that he's doing well three days after the highly experimental surgery. (Mark Teske/University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP) © Provided by Associated Press In this photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, members of the surgical team show the pig heart for transplant into patient David Bennett in Baltimore on Friday, Jan. 7, 2022. On Monday, Jan. 10, 2022 the hospital said that he's doing well three days after the highly experimental surgery. (Mark Teske/University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP)

A Maryland hospital is defending its decision to transplant a pig’s heart into a dying man following reports that the patient had a criminal past, saying his eligibility was “based solely on his medical records.”

David Bennett, 57, is still recovering from last week’s highly experimental transplant, a medical first and a step in the quest to one day ease shortages of human organs by using animals. While the new heart is functioning, it's too soon to know how Bennett will fare.

In this photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Dr. Bartley Griffith takes a selfie photo with patient David Bennett in Baltimore in January 2022. In a medical first, doctors transplanted a pig heart into Bennett in a last-ditch effort to save his life and the hospital said Monday, Jan. 10, 2022 that he's doing well three days after the highly experimental surgery. (Dr. Bartley Griffith/University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP) © Provided by Associated Press In this photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Dr. Bartley Griffith takes a selfie photo with patient David Bennett in Baltimore in January 2022. In a medical first, doctors transplanted a pig heart into Bennett in a last-ditch effort to save his life and the hospital said Monday, Jan. 10, 2022 that he's doing well three days after the highly experimental surgery. (Dr. Bartley Griffith/University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP)

On Thursday, The Washington Post reported that 34 years ago Bennett was charged with a stabbing that left a young man paralyzed. The state’s Division of Corrections told the newspaper that Bennett was released from prison in 1994 after serving six years of a 10-year prison sentence.


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In a statement Thursday, the University of Maryland Medical Center said doctors are obligated to provide the best care for every patient regardless of their background.

“This patient came to us in dire need and a decision was made about his transplant eligibility based solely on his medical records,” the hospital said. “This patient made the extraordinary decision to undergo this groundbreaking surgery to not only potentially extend his own life but also for the future benefit of others.”

This photo provided by the family shows from left, David Bennett Jr., David Bennett Sr., and Nicole (Bennett) McCray at a carnival in 2014. In a medical first, doctors transplanted a pig heart into Bennett Sr., in a last-ditch effort to save his life and the hospital said Monday, Jan. 10, 2022 that he's doing well three days after the highly experimental surgery. (Courtesy David Bennett Jr. via AP) © Provided by Associated Press This photo provided by the family shows from left, David Bennett Jr., David Bennett Sr., and Nicole (Bennett) McCray at a carnival in 2014. In a medical first, doctors transplanted a pig heart into Bennett Sr., in a last-ditch effort to save his life and the hospital said Monday, Jan. 10, 2022 that he's doing well three days after the highly experimental surgery. (Courtesy David Bennett Jr. via AP)

Bennett’s son, David Bennett Jr., issued a separate statement declining to discuss his father’s past and saying he hoped to focus on “my father’s wish to contribute to the science and potentially to save patient lives in the future.”

In this photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, members of the surgical team perform the transplant of a pig heart into patient David Bennett in Baltimore on Friday, Jan. 7, 2022. On Monday, Jan. 10, 2022 the hospital said that he's doing well three days after the highly experimental surgery. (Mark Teske/University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP) © Provided by Associated Press In this photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, members of the surgical team perform the transplant of a pig heart into patient David Bennett in Baltimore on Friday, Jan. 7, 2022. On Monday, Jan. 10, 2022 the hospital said that he's doing well three days after the highly experimental surgery. (Mark Teske/University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP)

The elder Bennett was deemed ineligible for a human heart transplant because of his condition — he had heart failure and an irregular heartbeat.

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