First Pig Kidney Transplanter Dies at 62

image source, Massachusetts General Hospital

image caption, Richard “Rick” Slayman, 62, received the world’s first pig kidney.

  • author, Hafsa Khalil
  • stock, BBC News

The first person to receive a kidney transplant from a genetically modified pig died two months after the operation, a hospital said.

Richard “Rick” Slayman, 62, suffered from end-stage kidney disease before undergoing surgery in March.

Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) said Sunday that his death was not a result of the transplant.

Transplanting other organs into genetically modified pigs has failed in the past, but Mr Slayman’s operation was hailed as a historic milestone.

In addition to kidney disease, Mr Slayman suffered from type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. In 2018, he underwent a human kidney transplant, but it began to fail five years later.

Following his pig kidney transplant on March 16, his doctors confirmed he would no longer need dialysis after the new organ was said to be functioning well.

“Mr. Slayman will always be seen as a beacon of hope for countless transplant patients around the world, and we are deeply grateful for his faith and desire to advance the field of xenotransplantation,” MGH said in a statement.

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

MGH expressed deep sadness at his sudden death and condolences to his family.

Relatives of Mr Sleiman said his story was an inspiration.

“Rick accomplished that goal and his faith and hope will live on forever.

“To us, Rick was a kind man with a quick sense of humor who was fiercely devoted to his family, friends and colleagues,” they added.

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

Two other patients underwent pig heart transplants, but those procedures failed as the recipients died weeks later.

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

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