That Dave Bennett is still alive is a sensation. A pig’s heart beats in his chest. A team of doctors succeeded in transplantation for the first time worldwide. It was the first time a pig heart had been successfully – and life-extending – inserted.
Now it has become known: Dave Bennett has a dark past. The American was in prison for ten years. He was convicted of a brutal knife attack, as reported by the Washington Post.
His victim: the then 22-year-old Edward Shumaker. Benett stabbed him seven times. With bad consequences. Shumaker became partially paralyzed and had to use a wheelchair afterwards. His life was marked by medical complications until he died in 2007 shortly before his 41st birthday as a result of a stroke.
Victim’s sister shocked
The attack occurred on April 30, 1988. The victim, Shumaker, spoke to Benett’s wife in a bar, causing him to become jealous and stab Shumaker in the back several times. Benett was sentenced to ten years in prison and had to pay nearly $30,000 in damages.
The revelations about Bennet’s criminal past have sparked a debate in the US about the selection of transplant patients. Leslie Shumaker Downey, the sister of the deceased victim, is shocked by the patient’s choice in the “Seattle Times”: “After Benett came out of prison, he lived a good life. Now he’s even getting a second chance with a new heart – but I wish the heart had gone to a worthy recipient.”
Doctors defend patient choice
There are currently more than 100,000 Americans on the national organ transplant waiting list. Every day 17 patients die because they could not get a new organ.
Those responsible at the University of Maryland Medical Center explain to the “Seattle Post” that a patient’s past is not decisive for current procedures. Doctors are obliged to ensure the medical care of all patients: “It is the only duty of every medical facility to provide life-saving care to all patients who walk in the door.”
In addition, it is not the job of doctors to morally evaluate a patient’s life. Those responsible at the University of Maryland are currently watching how Benett’s body accepts the genetically modified pig heart. (rsp)