PITTSBURGH, Pa. — The second person to receive a transplanted baboon liver died Friday after an infection spread throughout his abdominal cavity, doctors at the University of Pittsburgh said.
The 62-year-old man, whose named was not released, never regained full consciousness after the Jan. 10 operation.
Dr. John Fung, chief of transplantation at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said he believed the infection was caused by a leak of intestinal content into the cavity.
Since the leak occurred at the place where the liver was sewn to the small intestine, Fung speculated that a stitch might have fallen out or may have been put in incorrectly.
The doctor also said it was possible that tissue around the sutures did not heal properly. He said the cause of the infection would not be known until an autopsy early next week.
The patient was suffering from hepatitis B and was near death when he received a baboon liver, which transplant surgeons say resists the disease.
An overdose of an anti-rejection drug hastened the infection that killed the first recipient last September, 70 days after the transplant.