Recipient transplanted from a pig heart was convicted of stabbing a man


The man who received the historic transplant of a pig's heart was convicted of stabbing a man over 30 years ago

The man who received the historic transplant of a pig’s heart was convicted of stabbing a man over 30 years ago (Photos: University of Maryland School of Medicine)

The Maryland man, who suffers from terminal heart disease and who received a pig heart in a historic medical operation, has a criminal record dating back to 1988, in which he stabbed a man seven times, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.

David Bennett, 57, was convicted of stabbing in 1988 by Edward Shumaker, The Washington Post reported.

Shumaker’s sister, Leslie Shumaker Downey, said she froze when she realized it was the same man who was causing her family so much distress that she was now portrayed as a medical pioneer.

“Ed suffered,” Downey told the Post. ‘The devastation and trauma, for years, that my family had to deal with.’

Bennett, then 23, had attacked Shumaker while playing pool at a bar after his then-wife Norma Jean Bennett sat on Shumaker’s lap, according to The Daily Mail, a newspaper in Hagerstown.

Bennett hit Schumaker from behind and stabbed him seven times in the stomach, chest and back. He was later charged with intent to murder and openly carrying a concealed weapon, among other charges.

A jury found him guilty of violence and carrying a concealed weapon, but acquitted him of intent to murder. He was sentenced to 10 years behind bars.

The stabbing left Edward paralyzed and forced to use a wheelchair for 19 years before suffering a stroke in 2005 and dying two years later – a week before he would have turned 41 years old.

‘[Bennett] went on and lived a good life. Now he gets another chance with a new heart – but I wish, in my opinion, it had gone to a deserved recipient, ‘she told the newspaper.

The first of its kind procedure saved Bennett’s life and has given a glimmer of hope to others on the organ transplant list, said doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center where the surgery took place.

More than 106,000 Americans are on the national waiting list for an organ transplant, and 17 people die daily as a result of never receiving an organ they need.

While the family of Shumaker may disagree with the transplant because they feel Bennett was undeserved because of the pain he inflicted on them, doctors share a different opinion.

There are no laws or regulations at the federal level that prohibit anyone with a criminal history from receiving a transplant or an experimental procedure like the one Bennett had. At the local level, hospitals have greater discretion in deciding which individuals qualify to be added to the national waiting list.

Hospitals are also going to consider a person’s history of substance abuse or a prisoner risk of developing an infection while in prison.

Medical ethicists argue that the criminal justice system already imposes appropriate penalties on those convicted of violent crimes, and that withholding necessary medical services should not be added to punishment.

Officials from the University of Maryland Medical Center declined to comment to the newspaper on whether they knew about Bennett’s criminal past.

In a statement, the hospital said they provide ‘life-saving care to any patient who comes through their doors based on their medical needs, not their background or living conditions.’

“This patient came to us in dire need,” they said.

Bennett’s son, David Bennett Jr., declined to discuss his father’s criminal record with the newspaper.

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