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The man who received the world’s first pig-to-human heart transplant has a criminal record after stabbing a man seven times in the 1980s, according to the Washington Post.
David Bennett Sr was previously told he was ineligible for a transplant, the Independent reports, but was offered the chance of having a non-human heart put in his body instead.
The 57-year-old from Maryland had been admitted to hospital weeks ago after suffering from a 'life-threatening' case of heart arrhythmia, and was placed on a heart-lung bypass machine to keep him alive.
The team at University of Maryland Medical received emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration to input a genetically-modified pig's heart into his body, and sourced an organ from a 108-kilogram animal.
Since the news of the successful transplant, the sister of a man Bennett was convicted of stabbing in 1988 had come forward to criticise the transplant, saying her brother was never given the second chance Bennett received.
Edward Shumaker was left paralysed after being stabbed seven times by Bennett in a bar, and spent 19 years using a wheelchair. In 2005, he had a stroke and died two weeks later, just one week before his 41st birthday.
His older sister Leslie Shumaker Downey said she felt it was unfair that Bennett had received the ground-breaking treatment, writing in a public Facebook post: “That so called man that stabbed my brother 7 times, paralyzing my brother.
"My brother lived a very hard and painful 19 years after it. My brother Edward Shumaker Jr suffered so many things from infections, bed sores you could fit your fist into, MRSA, Sepsis and a stroke that eventually left my brother with a child’s mental capacity.”
She then continued: “I was told by someone a bit ago that it doesn’t matter what Bennett did because it’s unethical to refuse treatment to Bennett because he’s simply a human.
"Well if that’s the case then why do people get rejected from transplant list and end up dying? My brother died May 6, 2007, 19 long years of suffering he endured and Bennett gets a 2nd chance at life AGAIN? My brother didn’t get a 2nd chance at anything.
"Bennett is mentioned as a hero in the write/up story. No way is he a hero."
Speaking to the Washington Post, Shumaker Downey reiterated how her brother ‘suffered’, speaking of 'the devastation and the trauma, for years and years, that my family had to deal with'.
She said Bennett got out of prison and ‘went on and lived a good life’, adding: “Now he gets a second chance with a new heart - but I wish, in my opinion, it had gone to a deserving recipient.”
University of Maryland Medical Center officials declined to comment to the outlet about whether or not it knew about Bennett’s criminal past.
The hospital told LADbible in a statement: "It is the solemn obligation of any hospital or healthcare organization to provide lifesaving care to every patient who comes through their doors based on their medical needs, not their background or life circumstances. Any other standard of care would set a dangerous precedent and would violate the ethical and moral values that underpin the obligation physicians and caregivers have to all patients in their care.
"At the world-renowned R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center we treat thousands of injuries from violence each year, caring for both victims and perpetrators with equal compassion and excellent medical attention. The same principles apply to every patient at the University of Maryland Medical Center, regardless of background. All patients are worthy of care and compassion and as healthcare leaders we have a duty is to use our expertise, skills and training to save lives.
"This patient came to us in dire need, and a decision was made about his transplant eligibility based solely on his medical records. Our skilled team of experts did what they do best: They explored every available option to offer him the best chance at life. The University of Maryland Medical Center is proud to be a leader in the exploration of xenotransplantation. This patient made the extraordinary decision to undergo this groundbreaking surgery to not only potentially extend his own life, but also for the future benefit of others."
Bennett’s son, David Bennett Jr, declined to discuss his father’s criminal record with the Washington Post.
“He has a strong will and desire to live,” he said.
LADbible has contacted the University of Maryland Medical Center for comment.
Featured Image Credit: University of Maryland School of Medicine
Topics: US News
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