After being diagnosed with terminal heart disease, the patient, 57-year-old David Bennett, had been deemed ineligible for a conventional heart transplant at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) and other transplant centers around the country.
The historic surgery, conducted at the UMMC Friday, was the only currently available option for the patient, according to a release of the UMMC.
Bennett, a Maryland resident, is being carefully monitored over the next days and weeks to determine whether the transplant provides lifesaving benefits, said the UMMC.
"It was either die or do this transplant. I want to live. I know it's a shot in the dark, but it's my last choice," said Bennett a day before the surgery was conducted. He had been hospitalized and bedridden for the past few months.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization for the surgery on New Year's Eve through its expanded access (compassionate use) provision, according to the UMMC.
"This was a breakthrough surgery and brings us one step closer to solving the organ shortage crisis. There are simply not enough donor human hearts available to meet the long list of potential recipients," said Bartley Griffith, who surgically transplanted the pig heart into the patient.
About 110,000 Americans are currently waiting for an organ transplant, and more than 6,000 patients die each year before getting one, according to the U.S. government data.