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Virus

The pig heart transplanted into an American patient earlier this year in a landmark operation carried a porcine virus that may have derailed the experiment and contributed to his death two months later, say transplant specialists.

David Bennett Sr. was near death in January when he received a genetically edited pig heart in a pioneering between-species transplant that has been hailed as a success—and was, at first.

A few days after his heart was replaced with one from a pig, Bennett was sitting up in bed. His new heart was pumping fantastically and performing like a “rock star,” according to his transplant surgeon, Bartley Griffith of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

But about 40 days later Bennett, who was 57, took a turn for the worse. After two months he was dead. In a statement released by the university in March, a spokesperson said there was “no obvious cause identified at the time of his death” and that a full report was pending.

Now MIT Technology Review has learned that Bennett’s heart was affected by porcine cytomegalovirus, a... see more