A man who received a baboon's liver in the first such animal-to-human transplant died late Sunday after suffering a stroke and lapsing into a coma, a doctor said.
Doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center were trying to wean the 35-year-old man from a respirator Sunday afternoon when they discovered his brain was bleeding, said Dr. Howard R. Doyle, a member of the transplant team.The man suffered a stroke, and nearly seven hours later he was pronounced dead of intracranial bleeding. Doctors didn't immediately know what caused the bleeding, Doyle said.
"It all happened very quickly," Doyle said.
The man, whose name has been withheld at his request, received the historic transplant during an 11-hour operation June 28.
He suffered from hepatitis B, which was destroying his own liver and likely would have attacked any transplanted human liver, doctors said.
Until the last week of August, he appeared to be recovering well from surgery. By late July, the baboon liver had grown to nearly triple its original size to the size of a normal human liver, as doctors had hoped it would.
The patient ate solid food, watched television and walked around the intensive care unit, pulling along the pole from which his intravenous tubes hung.
"He was a great guy. He was an extraordinary man," Doyle said.
On July 3, doctors upgraded his condition to serious, and then to fair on July 28. He suffered a minor bout with rejection in mid-July but doctors quickly controlled it.