/ 17 January 2022

Pig heart transplant recipient has a dark past

Image source: University of Maryland School of Medicine
Image source: University of Maryland School of Medicine

Last week, we brought you the story of a very sick man receiving a genetically modified pig’s heart via experimental surgery to save his life. It turns out the recipient, David Bennett Snr, had years earlier been jailed in 1988 for stabbing a man. The victim Edward Shumaker was confined to a wheelchair for 19 years before dying of a stroke a week before his 41st birthday. Shumaker’s sister Leslie had initially read the story favourably until a friend told her to double-check the patient’s name. “I wish, in my opinion, it had gone to a deserving recipient,” she said. More than 106,000 Americans are on the national list for organ transplants, and 17 people die each day waiting. Some commentators believe that people convicted of violent crimes shouldn’t receive organ transplants given the shortage. What an ethical minefield…

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