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Patient Who Underwent Pig Kidney ‘Xenotransplant’ Dies Two Months Later

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The hospital where the surgery took place announced the death of the first recipient of a genetically modified pig kidney transplant, approximately two months after the operation, citing no evidence linking the transplant to the patient’s cause of death.

Richard “Rick” Slayman, aged 62, underwent the transplant at Massachusetts General Hospital in March, with surgeons anticipating that the pig kidney would function for a minimum of two years. Confirmation of Slayman’s passing was provided by both his family and the hospital.

Expressing their condolences, the transplant team at Massachusetts General Hospital released a statement, expressing profound sadness at Slayman’s passing and extending sympathies to his family.

Slayman’s case marked a significant milestone as the first living person to undergo this procedure. Prior experiments involved the temporary transplantation of pig kidneys into brain-dead recipients. Additionally, two men received heart transplants from pigs, but unfortunately, both succumbed to their conditions after several months.

Slayman had undergone a kidney transplant at the same hospital in 2018, but complications necessitated a return to dialysis last year. When complications from dialysis procedures became frequent, his medical team suggested a pig kidney transplant as an alternative.

In their statement, Slayman’s family expressed gratitude towards his medical team for their tireless efforts, acknowledging that the xenotransplantation procedure provided them with an additional seven weeks with Rick, creating enduring memories.

They emphasized that Slayman underwent the surgery with the intention of instilling hope in the thousands of individuals awaiting life-saving transplants, a goal he achieved, leaving behind a legacy of hope and optimism.

Another notable instance of xenotransplantation occurred in April when Lisa Pisano of New Jersey received a genetically modified pig kidney along with a mechanical heart pump.

Xenotransplantation, a method of healing human patients with animal cells, tissues, or organs, had historically faced challenges due to the human immune system’s rejection of foreign animal tissue. Recent advancements, including modifications to pig organs to make them more compatible with humans, represent promising strides in this field of medical research.

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