MEDICALLY REVIEWED

Tragic Loss: Lawrence Faucette, Pioneer of Pig Heart Transplant, Passes Away

Lawrence Faucette, the 58-year-old patient who received the world’s second genetically-modified pig heart transplant, has passed away.

In a heart-wrenching update, we must announce the passing of Lawrence Faucette. Mr, Faucette was a patient who made medical history as one of the early recipients of a genetically-modified pig heart transplant. Mr. Faucette’s journey was marked by hope and resilience, but ultimately, he succumbed to the challenges posed by his terminal heart disease.

A Remarkable Recovery Cut Short

After undergoing the groundbreaking pig heart transplant on September 20, Mr. Faucette had shown remarkable progress. He engaged in physical therapy, spent cherished moments with his family, and even enjoyed playing cards with his wife, Ann. His courage and determination in the face of adversity inspired many.

The Heartbreaking Challenge of Rejection

In recent days, however, signs of rejection began to manifest in Mr. Faucette’s transplanted pig heart. Rejection is a significant challenge in both traditional human organ transplants and xenotransplantation. 

Despite the medical team’s unwavering efforts to combat this complication, Mr. Faucette’s condition deteriorated, leading to his passing on October 30.

Tributes from Medical Pioneers

 Dr. Griffith, also the Clinical Director of the Cardiac Xenotransplantation Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), described Mr. Faucette as a remarkable patient, scientist, Navy veteran, and family man. 

He said, “Mr. Faucette’s last wish was for us to make the most of what we have learned from our experience, so others may be guaranteed a chance for a new heart when a human organ is unavailable. We will miss him tremendously.”

A Scientist’s Contribution

Dr. Muhammad M. Mohiuddin, MD, Professor of Surgery and Scientific/Program Director of the Cardiac Xenotransplantation Program at UMSOM, emphasised Mr. Faucette’s role as a scientist who actively engaged in understanding the transplantation process. Dr. Mohiuddin added, “We cannot express enough gratitude to Mr. Faucette and his family for enabling us to continue to make significant advancements towards making xenotransplants a reality.”

A Journey of Hope and Sacrifice

Mr. Faucette’s journey began when he arrived at the University of Maryland Medical Center on September 14, in the throes of end-stage heart failure. His complex medical conditions, including peripheral vascular disease, made him ineligible for a traditional heart transplant. An emergency authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration paved the way for the groundbreaking surgery, offering hope for an extended life.

A Monumental Achievement and Future Hopes

The transplanted pig heart initially performed admirably. Mr. Faucette showed no signs of rejection during the first month of recovery. Mr. Faucette’s determination to regain his strength through physical therapy was evident. He was working towards regaining his ability to walk. Mr. Faucette’s journey represented a significant step in the field of xenotransplantation.

In the world of medical innovation, Mr. Faucette’s story will be remembered. While his passing is a profound loss, it highlights the importance of continued research and development in xenotransplantation. The hope he leaves behind will continue to inspire countless others.

Words of Gratitude and Reflection from Ann Faucette

Ann Faucette, Larry’s wife, shared her husband’s remarkable spirit and selflessness throughout his journey. She described his unwavering confidence in Dr. Griffith and his medical team. Larry Faucette’s legacy of kindness, selflessness, and his unwavering commitment to helping others will never be forgotten.

The Faucette family expressed their gratitude to the staff at the University of Maryland Medical Center for the care provided to Larry and the support extended to their family during this challenging time. They also expressed their appreciation for David Bennett, Sr., and his family, who were pioneers in the field of xenotransplantation.

As the medical community mourns the loss of Lawrence Faucette, his legacy serves as a beacon of hope. It reminds us all of the boundless potential of medical science and the enduring human spirit in the face of adversity.

References

  1. 2023 News – In Memoriam: Lawrence Faucette  | University of Maryland School of Medicine. (n.d.). https://www.medschool.umaryland.edu/news/2023/in-memoriam-lawrence-faucette.html

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