Lawrence Faucette, 58, was successfully transplanted on September 20 by a team from the University of Maryland. Despite the progress, the heart suffered rejection
Lawrence Faucette didn’t make it, 58 years old, the second man to whom on September 20th a team from the University of Maryland led by Professor Muhammad Mohiuddin had implanted a genetically modified pig heart. The xenotransplantation
had had completely different results from the one performed in 2022 on David Bennett, who died two months later for a series of complications, also described in a publication in the prestigious scientific journal The Lancet.
Two days after the operation, in fact, Faucette was joking with the doctors and was able to sit in a chair. And Professor Mohiuddin himself, in an exclusive interview with Corriere della Sera, he said he was confident he could discharge the patient within a couple of weeks.
Significant progress, then signs of rejection
The news of Lawrence Faucette’s death was given by the University of Maryland itself: It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Lawrence Faucettethe 58-year-old patient with end-stage heart disease who received the world’s second genetically modified pig heart transplant. Mr. Faucette received the transplant on September 20 and lived for nearly six weeks after the surgery.
Faucette had made significant progress since surgery, engaging in physical therapy, spending time with his family, and playing cards with his wife Ann. In recent days his heart has begun to show the first signs of rejection, the most significant challenge for traditional transplants that also involve human organs. Despite the best efforts of the medical team, Mr. Faucette died on October 30, the note concludes.
Looking for the causes, for future transplants
There were several comments and reactions from the team that operated on him. We mourn the loss of Mr. Faucette, an extraordinary patient, scientist, Navy veteran and family man who just wanted a little more time to spend with his loving wife, children and family, he said Bartley P. Griffith, who surgically transplanted the pig heart into the patient at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). Griffith Thomas E. and Alice Marie Hales Professor Emeritus in Transplant Surgery and clinical director of the Cardiac Xenotransplant Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM). Faucette’s dying wish was for us to make the most of what we learned from our experience, so that others can be guaranteed the possibility of a new heart when a human organ is unavailable. Then she told the team of doctors and nurses who had gathered around him that she loved us. We will miss him very much.
Muhammad M. Mohiuddinprofessor of Surgery and scientific director of the Cardiac Xenotransplant Program at UMSOM, added: We cannot express enough gratitude to Mr. Faucette and his family for allowing us to continue to make significant progress toward making xenotransplantation a reality. Mr. Faucette was a scientist who not only read and interpreted his own biopsies, but understood the important contribution he was making to progress in this field. As with the first patient, David Bennett, we intend to conduct an in-depth analysis to identify factors that can be prevented in future transplants; This will allow us to continue moving forward and educate our colleagues in the field about our experience.
Faucette’s clinical and human history
Faucette first arrived at the University of Maryland Medical Center as a patient on September 14. When he entered the hospital, he was suffering from end-stage heart failure. Shortly before the operation, his heart stopped and he needed to be resuscitated. was deemed ineligible for a traditional heart transplant due to his medical conditionincluding peripheral vascular disease. On September 15, the US Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization for surgery in hopes of extending his life. After surgery, the transplanted heart performed very well with no evidence of rejection during the first month of recovery. Faucette was in physical therapy and working to regain his ability to walk.
This is a monumental achievement and titanic efforts are needed to advance the field of transplantation, noted Christine Lau, the Dr. Robert W. Buxton Professor and chair of the UMSOM Department of Surgery and Surgeon-in-Chief of UMMC. Lung transplants took decades to perfect, and the giants of those times carried a lot on their shoulders. Griffith, Mohiuddin and their entire care team, as well as Mr. Faucette and his family, are our heroes today.
The family’s statements
Says Ann Faucette, his wife: Larry began this journey with an open mind and complete trust in Dr. Griffith and his staff. He knew his time with us was short and this was his last chance to do something for others. He never imagined he would survive this long, or provide so much data to the xenotransplant program. He was a man who always thought of others, especially me and his two children. The kindness and selfless acts of others did not go unnoticed. Larry constantly told the nurses, support staff, and doctors how much he appreciated what they were doing for him.
He was not only thinking about how this trip was helping advance the xenotransplant program, but also how it would affect his family. An example his last night, when he was lying in bed contemplating the end and worrying about his sister and if she was still asleep. We continue to be in awe of the man he was and how he shaped our lives. It can never be forgotten. We thank the staff of the University of Maryland Medical Center for the care provided to Larry and the support given to family members throughout their many days. We would also like to thank David Bennett’s family
for having the courage to be number one and for the support he has given us. We look forward to progress and success in the field of xenotransplantation.
November 2, 2023 (modified November 2, 2023 | 1:15 pm)
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