First Recipient of Genetically Modified Pig Kidney Transplant Dies Two Months After Surgery

Richard “Rick” Slayman, 62, the recipient of the first-ever genetically modified pig kidney transplant, has passed away two months post-surgery, according to the hospital where the groundbreaking procedure took place.

Suffering from end-stage kidney disease, Slayman underwent the operation in March. Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) stated that there is no evidence linking his death to the transplant. Despite previous failures with genetically modified pig organs, Slayman’s surgery was celebrated as a historic milestone.

Apart from kidney disease, Mr. Slayman battled Type 2 diabetes and hypertension. In 2018, he underwent a human kidney transplant, which began to deteriorate after five years.

However, after receiving a pig kidney transplant on March 16, his physicians confirmed that he no longer required dialysis as the new organ was functioning effectively.

“Mr Slayman will forever be seen as a beacon of hope to countless transplant patients worldwide and we are deeply grateful for his trust and willingness to advance the field of xenotransplantation,” MGH said in a statement.

Xenotransplantation is the transplanting of living cells, tissues or organs from one species to another.

MGH said it was “deeply saddened” at his sudden death and offered condolences to his family.

Mr Slayman’s relatives said his story was an inspiration.

“Rick said that one of the reasons he underwent this procedure was to provide hope for the thousands of people who need a transplant to survive,” they said.

“Rick accomplished that goal and his hope and optimism will endure forever.

“To us, Rick was a kind-hearted man with a quick-witted sense of humour who was fiercely dedicated to his family, friends, and co-workers,” they added.

While Mr Slayman received the first pig kidney to be transplanted into a human, it is not the first pig organ to be used in a transplant procedure.

Two other patients have received pig heart transplants, but those procedures were unsuccessful as the recipients died a few weeks later.

In one case, there were signs the patient’s immune system had rejected the organ, which is a common risk in transplants.

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