The University of Maryland Medicine announced in a news release Monday that a 57-year-old Maryland man is doing well three days after receiving a genetically engineered pig heart in a first-of-its-kind transplant surgery.

David Bennett had terminal heart disease, and the pig heart was "the only currently available option," according to the release. After reviewing his medical records, Bennett was deemed ineligible for a conventional heart transplant or an artificial heart pump.

"It was either die or do this transplant. I want to live. I know it's a shot in the dark, but it's my last choice," Bennett said before the surgery, according to the release.

On Dec. 31, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization for the surgery.

The transplantation field has long been plagued by a scarcity of viable human organs, with many patients spending years on waiting lists as their health deteriorates. Previously, physicians attempted to transplant organs from animals such as baboons and chimps into people, but patients did not live long.

With the advent of gene editing, researchers began tinkering with pig genes to make their organs more appealing to human immune systems, and some years ago attempted cross-species transplantation from modified pigs to baboons.

Montgomery was successful in transplanting a modified pig kidney into a person a few months ago, but the recipient had no visible brain activity, and the procedure was done as an experiment rather than as a therapeutic in that case.

The pig that gave Bennett his new heart had four genes knocked out and six human genes introduced, according to The New York Times, all in the hopes of preventing immunological rejection. To prevent the heart from continuing to develop after transplantation, another gene was knocked out.

Bennett's son, David Bennett, Jr., told the Times that he was skeptical at first when his father explained that he would be receiving a pig heart: "I thought, no way, shape or form is that happening," he said.

So far, the heart is "working and it looks normal," Bartley Griffith, the surgeon who performed the operation.

Bennett, on the other hand, is hoping that his transplant would let him continue living his life. He was bedridden for six weeks before surgery and was hooked up to a machine that kept him alive after being diagnosed with a fatal heart illness.

On Monday, Bennett was reported to be breathing on his own while being closely monitored.