Historic Pig Heart Transplant Receiver Was Jailed For Stabbing Man Seven Times

by : Shola Lee on :
Historic Pig Heart Transplant Receiver Was Jailed For Stabbing Man Seven TimesAlamy/University Of Maryland School Of Medicine

Earlier this month, David Bennett made history as the first person to undergo groundbreaking surgery involving a genetically modified pig heart.

The 57-year-old had terminal heart disease and was told that the surgery was his only alternative to death.


However, ethical issues have been raised after it was revealed that Bennett had previously stabbed a man, repeatedly, leaving him paralysed, and served time in jail for the incident.

Speaking to The Washington Post, Leslie Shumaker Downer, whose brother the man was stabbed and paralysed by Bennett, said:

The devastation and the trauma, for years and years, that my family had to deal with… Now [David Bennett] gets a second chance with a new heart — but I wish, in my opinion, it had gone to a deserving recipient.


On April 30, 1988, Bennet reportedly stabbed Downer’s brother Ed seven times at a bar in Hagerstown, Maryland, after he allegedly saw him flirting with his wife.

Bennet was then sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay the family $3.4 million.

Ed was left wheelchair-bound for two decades, before having a stroke in 2005. He died two years later.

Ed’s brother was an EMT, he had dropped Ed off at the bar that night and was later called to respond to the attack. Since the incident, Ed’s brother reportedly became addicted to opioids and died in 1999 of an overdose.


However, the University of Maryland Medical Centre where the surgery occurred issued a statement detailing how a patient’s treatment is based solely on their medical needs.

They said:

Lifesaving care to every patient who comes through their doors based on their medical needs, not their background or life circumstances… This patient came to us in dire need, and a decision was made about his transplant eligibility based solely on his medical records.


Man Receives Genetically-Modified Pig Heart In World-First Transplant

published at4 months ago

Previously, Bennett had been denied transplant eligibility for medical and non-medical reasons. However, on his death bed in Baltimore hospital, he received the risk choice.

Bennett’s son also issued a statement relating to the surgery. ‘My intent here is not to speak about my father’s past. My intent is to focus on the groundbreaking surgery and my father’s wish to contribute to the science and potentially save patient lives in the future,’ he said.

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Shola Lee

Shola Lee began her journalism career while studying for her undergraduate degree at Queen Mary, University of London and Columbia University in New York. She has written for the Columbia Spectator, QM Global Bloggers, CUB Magazine, UniDays, and Warner Brothers' Wizarding World Digital. Recently, Shola took part in the 2021 BAFTA Crew and BBC New Creatives programme before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news, trending stories, and features.

Topics: News, Now


The Independent and 1 other
  1. The Independent

    Patient who received groundbreaking pig heart transplant was jailed for stabbing man and leaving him paralysed

  2. Washington Post

    The ethics of a second chance: Pig heart transplant recipient stabbed a man seven times years ago