The first transplant of its kind, involving a genetically modified pig heart, raises ethical questions after it turned out that the patient who had undergone surgery had previously stabbed the man several times and left him paralyzed.
David Bennett, 57, made headlines around the world earlier this week when it was announced he was recovering safely after the world’s first successful pig heart GMO transplant at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Doctors at the university have described the procedure as an important step in helping more than 110,000 people on organ transplant lists each year to receive help – where many die before they can get surgery.
“This was a groundbreaking operation and brings us one step closer to resolving the organ shortage crisis. There are simply not enough human hearts of donors available to meet the long list of potential recipients, “said Dr. in a statement. Bartley P Griffith, who underwent surgery.
The news had a completely different feeling towards Leslie Shumaker Downer, whose brother, Mr Bennett, was stabbed and paralyzed in 1988 in an attack on a bar in Maryland. The Washington Post, who revealed a past conviction that she recognized the importance of a heart transplant, but did not view Mr Bennett as a hero.
“Ed was suffering,” Ms. Downey said publication. “The destruction and trauma of the years and years my family had to face… Now [David Bennett] it gets a second chance with a new heart – but I want it to go to a deserving recipient in my opinion. “
Bennett stabbed Ed seven times on April 30, 1988 at a bar in Hagerstown, Maryland, after seeing Mr. Shumaker flirt with his wife. He was sentenced and sentenced to 10 years in prison, and was separately ordered to pay the Shumaker family $ 3.4 million in a civil lawsuit, which they claimed they never received. Edward Shumaker was in a wheelchair for the next two decades before suffering a stroke in 2005 and dying two years later. Meanwhile, the rest of the family was fighting alongside him, taking out loans to pay for a wheelchair accessible van. Ed’s brother, a nurse who dropped him off at a bar on the day of the attack and was later called to respond to the bloody scene, battled guilt and later became addicted to opioids before dying of an overdose in 1999 at an old age . of 28, according to his family.
UMD said in a statement that it provides emergency care to any patient who comes through their door based on their medical needs, not their background or life circumstances … This patient came to us in dire need and a decision was made on his eligibility until transplantation. only on the basis of his medical records. “
In most medical circles, it is considered unethical to deny someone medical care based on their past criminal records.
“Penalties that completely exclude convicted offenders from receiving treatment, including organ transplants, are not ethically legitimate,” the Ethics Committee of the Federal Health Resources and Services Administration wrote in 2015, adding: “Criminals who are not sentenced to death, return to the company and be treated equally when receiving other items / services distributed by the company. “
Mr Bennett has been denied eligibility for transplantation in previous hospitals for medical and non-medical reasons. Due to his past heart failure and irregular heartbeat, he was unsuitable for some transplants, as well as his past records of not following medical instructions, attending follow-up visits, or consistently taking medication, according to his son.
David Bennet, Jr., son of Mr Bennett, said his father had never spoken about his past, and praised him for taking a risky opportunity that could benefit medical science. This winter, as he faced his potential death at a Baltimore hospital, David Sr. reportedly began to wonder if he would be an organ donor or how he could benefit science if he died of heart disease.
“My intention here is not to talk about my father’s past. My intention is to focus on groundbreaking surgery and my father’s desire to contribute to science and potentially save patients ’lives in the future,” said David Bennett, Jr. in a statement.
About 17 people die each day while waiting for an organ transplant.