Maryland dad recovering after receiving genetically-modified pig heart transplant

A 57-year-old Maryland man is continuing a miraculous recovery after getting a new heart. The donor: A genetically modified pig.

FOX 5's David Kaplan spoke with David Bennett, Jr., the heart recipient's son who says his dad is still very much recovering and doctors are watching over him closely.

Everyone remains cautiously optimistic that his body will continue accepting his new heart.

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"Overall, he's a lot better looking. His vitals are a lot better now than they've been in the past," Bennett, Jr. said. "We're overly optimistic now, I've had at least three people, the surgeon, anesthesiologist, the nurse, all pleasantly surprised with his progress and said frankly he's doing better than some of the patients they've seen with human heart transplants."

Bennett Sr. reached a big milestone Tuesday when he was taken off an ECMO machine that is used to help pump and oxygenate blood.

Bennett Jr. told FOX 5 that it's still a long road of recovery ahead, but says his father is a fighter, who was in bad health and wanted to give himself every shot at a normal life again.

"For me, it seemed like a win. A win-win. First of all, his prognosis, I didn't think he was going to make it out of the hospital given the severity of his heart failure. So the potential to give him more life, and the quality of life that he sought was favorable, and the fact that it can provide hope for others," Bennett, Jr. said.

Using organs of genetically modified pigs for transplants into humans is still far from being the norm. However, Bennett Jr. told FOX 5 that his father can be that reason for hope for many families in similar situations.