Pig kidney ‘xenotransplant’ patient dies two months later | Medical research

The first recipient of a genetically modified pig kidney transplant has died about two months later, with the hospital that performed the surgery saying it did not have any indication the transplant was the cause.

Richard “Rick” Slayman had the transplant at Massachusetts general hospital in March at the age of 62. Surgeons said they believed the pig kidney would last for at least two years. On Saturday, his family and the hospital that performed the surgery confirmed Slayman’s death.

The transplant team at the Massachusetts hospital said in a statement it was deeply saddened and offered condolences to his family.

Slayman was the first living person to have the procedure. Previously, pig kidneys had been temporarily transplanted into brain-dead recipients as an experiment. Two men received heart transplants from pigs, although both died after several months.

Slayman had a kidney transplant at the hospital in 2018, but had to go back on dialysis last year when it showed signs of failure. When dialysis complications arose requiring frequent procedures, his doctors suggested the pig kidney transplant.

In a statement, Slayman’s family thanked his doctors. “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 statement said.

They said Slayman underwent the surgery in part to provide hope for the thousands of people who need a transplant to survive. “Rick accomplished that goal and his hope and optimism will endure forever.”

In April, New Jersey woman Lisa Pisano also received a genetically modified pig kidney as well as a mechanical pump to keep her heart beating.

Xenotransplantation refers to healing human patients with cells, tissues or organs from animals. Such efforts long failed because the human immune system immediately destroyed foreign animal tissue. Recent attempts have involved pigs that have been modified so their organs are more like those of humans.

With Associated Press

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