Man who had world’s first successful pig kidney transplant dies

Man who had world’s first successful pig kidney transplant dies

Richard “Rick” Slayman, the first living person to receive a genetically modified pig kidney transplant, died approximately two months after the surgery. The 62-year-old underwent the experimental procedure at Massachusetts General Hospital in March. Although the hospital stated that there was no indication the transplant was the cause of death, the exact circumstances are still unclear.

Slayman had previously received a traditional kidney transplant in 2018, but it failed last year, leading to complications with dialysis. His doctors suggested the innovative pig kidney transplant as a potential solution. The surgery was part of a xenotransplantation program aimed at using cells, tissues, or organs from animals to heal human patients.

Despite the setback, Slayman’s family expressed gratitude to his doctors, saying, “Their enormous efforts leading the xenotransplant gave our family seven more weeks with Rick, and our memories made during that time will remain in our minds and hearts.” They also highlighted Slayman’s desire to provide hope for thousands of people awaiting transplants, stating, “Rick accomplished that goal, and his hope and optimism will endure forever.”

The xenotransplantation program has faced challenges in the past due to the human immune system’s rejection of foreign animal tissue. However, recent advancements involve using genetically modified pigs with organs more similar to those of humans. Another patient, Lisa Pisano, received a similar transplant in April, along with a mechanical heart pump.

While Slayman’s passing marks a setback, his pioneering role in this experimental treatment may pave the way for future breakthroughs in xenotransplantation.

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