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World’s first modified pig kidney transplant patient dies two months after operation

World’s first modified pig kidney transplant patient dies two months after operation

The world’s first patient with a transplanted pig kidney has died, almost two months after the operation.

In March, Massachusetts General Hospital transplanted the genetically-edited pig kidney into Rick Slayman, a 62-year-old man living with end-stage kidney disease.

The operation was a milestone in xenotransplantation – the transplantation of organs or tissues from one species to another – as a potential solution to the worldwide organ shortage, the hospital said at the time.

Slayman’s death was not linked to the transplant, the hospital reported.

“Our family is deeply saddened about the sudden passing of our beloved Rick but take great comfort knowing he inspired so many,” his family said on Sunday.

READ ALSO: Patient with transplanted pig kidney leaves hospital

Slayman’s family paid tribute to the medical team that cared for him.

“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.”

The pig kidney came from a pig that was genetically-edited to remove harmful pig genes and add certain human genes to improve its compatibility with humans. Scientists also inactivated porcine endogenous retroviruses in the pig donor to eliminate any risk of infection in humans.

The hospital said it was “deeply saddened” by Slayman’s death.

“We have no indication that it was the result of his recent transplant,”

“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,” it said.

Previous efforts

Transplants of other organs from genetically modified pigs have failed in the past, but the operation on Mr Slayman was hailed as a historic milestone.

In addition to kidney disease, Mr Slayman also suffered from Type 2 diabetes and hypertension. In 2018, he had a human kidney transplant, but it began to fail after five years.

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

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.

 

Additional details added from the BBC and NAN

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