The Download: A transplant disaster, and online abortion networks

This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.

The gene-edited pig heart given to a dying patient was infected with a pig virus

The pig heart transplanted into an American patient earlier this year in a landmark operation was infected with a porcine virus that may have derailed the experiment and contributed to his death two months later, MIT Technology Review has learned.

David Bennett Sr. was close to death in January when he received a genetically edited pig heart in a pioneering transplant that was initially hailed as a success. The 57-year old’s new heart was pumping fantastically within just a few days of surgery, and performing like a “rock star,” according to his transplant surgeon.

But, unknown to doctors, Bennett’s heart was affected by porcine cytomegalovirus, a hard-to-detect but preventable infection linked to devastating effects on transplants. The infection may have been a potential contributor to his illness and eventual death, specialists have said, and may explain why the heart did not last longer. It suggests the experiment was compromised by an unforced error, meaning researchers may have to go back to the drawing board. Read the full story

—Antonio Regalado

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 Reddit volunteers are helping people who need abortions
This offers a glimpse into what a post-Roe era might look like. (WP $)
+ Silicon Valley is going to be at  the center of the abortion rights storm. (Wired $)
+ Online privacy is going to be more important than ever for women seeking abortions. . (Bloomberg $)
+ How to get an abortion in an age of surveillance. (Gizmodo)

2 Beijing is teetering on the edge of a lockdown
Authorities have extended restrictions in an effort to avoid Shanghai’s fate, as covid cases climb. (Reuters $)
+ North Korea’s extreme covid lockdown can’t last forever(FT $)
+ Shanghai is slowly emerging from its intense lockdown. (BBC)
+ Chinese censors are working overtime to suppress dissent over lockdowns. . (TR) 
+ A new covid subvariant is spreading across the US. (NYT $)

3 Facebook’s future is less about socializing these days
And a whole lot more about buying and selling. (Economist $)
+ Evolution is essential to preventing social media from becoming stale. (Wired $)

4 India is forcing VPNs to collect and hand over user data
Which will run foul of the majority of VPNs’ “no logs policy.” (CNET)

5 Shein is China’s influencer-powered fast fashion darling
But its low prices come at a high cost for workers’ rights. (Wired $)
+ Shoppers are returning more cheap items of clothing than before the pandemic. (BBC

6 The sad origins of crypto’s favorite phrase 
Fans are annoyed that “We’re all gonna make it” has become co-opted. (Motherboard)
+ Most El Salvador residents have ditched their national bitcoin wallets. (Rest of World)

7 The US is considering sanctioning Chinese surveillance camera company Hikvision
It’s been accused of enabling human rights abuses. (FT $)
+ Moderators for student surveillance systems are worried about how intrusive they are. (Fast Company $)

8 Why are we all so obsessed with taking ancestry tests?
Race, ancestry and genetics can make for uneasy bedfellows. (New Yorker $)

9 You don’t have to fully stop eating meat to help the planet 
Even just eating 20% less beef would make a big impact. (Wired $)
+ Cutting down on hamburgers is a great start. (TR)
+ Billionaire investor Carl Icahn wants to wean McDonalds off its dependence on meat. (Bloomberg $)

10 The internet’s most famous gif has had a makeover
Unfortunately, the new look involves NFTs. (CNN) + This retro emoji font strips the pictograms back to their charming basics. (Input)

Quote of the day

“It will not be easy.”

—Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, gives an understated warning about how hard it’ll be for the heavily-dependent European Union to implement its new total ban on Russian oil, the New York Times reports.

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these weird times. (Got any ideas? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me.)

+ Happy Cinco de Mayo! Here’s a roundup of delicious recipes from the New York Times to celebrate at home with.
+ The world’s only nonuplets have just celebrated their first birthday!
+ Watching monarch butterflies migrating to Mexico is exceptionally peaceful
+ This project growing herbs, vegetables and flowers in biospheres beneath the sea just off the Italian coast is very cool.
+ Meet the “every-single-streeters” exploring every street in their cities.
+ Who doesn’t love a good puzzle?
+ Chaotic nightclub photos is my new favorite twitter account.