| 12.4°C Dublin

'no hero' Family of man stabbed by first person to receive pig heart transplant say he's 'not worthy'

He stabbed Edward Shumaker seven times in 1988


David Bennett with his surgeon

David Bennett with his surgeon

David Bennett with his surgeon

The family of a man stabbed seven times by the first person to receive a pig heart transplant has said he is “not worthy” of the historical medical intervention.

57-year-old David Bennett who suffered from terminal heart failure and an uncontrollable irregular heartbeat, underwent the ground breaking transplant last week.

In 1988 he attacked 22-year-old Edward Shumaker stabbing him seven times at a bar in Maryland.

In an interview with the BBC, his sister Leslie Shumaker Downey, said that morally, he shouldn’t have been the first person to benefit from the medical breakthrough.

“For the medical community, the advancement of it and being able to do something like that is great and it's a great advancement but they're putting Bennett in the storylines portraying him as being a hero and a pioneer and he's nothing of that sort,” she said.

“I think the doctors who did the surgery should be getting all the praise and not Mr. Bennett.”

Shumaker was left paralyzed after being stabbed in the back, abdomen and chest.

He survived his injuries for 19 years before suffering a stroke in 2005 and dying two years later at age 40.

Bennett, who was 23 at the time of the attack was convicted for battery and carrying a concealed weapon. He was sentenced to 10 years behind bars.

However, he did not serve the full term, with Shumaker’s family saying he only served five years.

Speaking about her brother’s injuries she said: “He couldn't even feed himself every night. So my father went to the nursing home every night faithfully and fed Ed his dinner. That was the only enjoyment Ed had out of life, was food."

She found out about the transplant through one of her daughters when she messaged her to say: “Mom, this is the man that stabbed uncle Ed.”

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

When asked if being notified about the surgery before it hit headlines would have made things easier for her she said it wouldn’t have changed her “personal opinion of how it made me angry and how it upset me, but it would've been nice to have been notified in some other way than my daughter seeing it on social media".

“It just makes you relive everything and rehash everything that my brother went through for 19 years and what my parents went through.”

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices