Global1st person to receive genetically modified pig kidney dies

1st person to receive genetically modified pig kidney dies

BOSTON (AP) — The first recipient of a genetically modified pig kidney has died almost two months after undergoing the procedure, his family and the hospital that performed it reported Saturday.

Richard “Rick” Slayman underwent the transplant at Massachusetts General Hospital in March, at age 62. Surgeons said they believed the pig kidney would last at least two years.

The transplant team at Massachusetts General Hospital expressed its deep sadness at Slayman’s death in a statement and offered its condolences to his family. They stated that they had no indication that he had died as a result of the transplant.

The Weymouth, Massachusetts, man was the first living person to undergo this procedure. Previously, pig kidneys had been temporarily transplanted into brain-dead donors. Two men received heart transplants from pigs, although both died within months.

Slayman underwent a kidney transplant at the hospital in 2018, but had to undergo dialysis again last year when he showed signs of failure. When dialysis complications arose that required frequent procedures, her doctors suggested a pig kidney transplant.

In a statement, Slayman’s family thanked his doctors.

“His tremendous efforts on the front lines of xenotransplantation provided our family with seven more weeks with Rick, and the memories we made during that time will remain in our minds and hearts,” the statement said.

Slayman underwent the operation in part to give hope to the thousands of people who need a transplant to survive.

“Rick achieved his goal and his hope and optimism will last forever,” the statement states.

Xenotransplantation consists of curing human patients with cells, tissues or organs from animals. These attempts failed for a long time because the human immune system immediately destroyed the foreign animal tissue. The latest attempts have been made with pigs modified so that their organs are more similar to humans.

More than 100,000 people are on the national waiting list for a transplant, most of them kidney patients, and thousands die each year before their turn comes.

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