First patient with pig kidney dies two months after transplant

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.

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.

AFP