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  • 24 May, 2024

First recipient of gene-edited pig kidney transplant dies.

First recipient of gene-edited pig kidney transplant dies.

In a groundbreaking achievement, surgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital performed the world's first successful transplantation of a genetically edited pig kidney into Slayman, who was 62 years old at the time and grappling with end-stage kidney disease.

In Washington, the US hospital that conducted the groundbreaking procedure announced the death of the first patient to receive a genetically modified pig kidney transplant. "Mass General is deeply saddened at the sudden passing of Mr. Rick Slayman. We have no indication that it was the result of his recent transplant," the Boston hospital stated.

In a historic achievement, surgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital performed the transplant in March, implanting the genetically edited pig kidney into Slayman, who was 62 years old and battling end-stage kidney disease.

"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," the hospital expressed in a statement.

Organ shortages persist globally, with Mass General noting over 1,400 patients awaiting kidney transplants on their list in March.

The Massachusetts biotech company eGenesis provided the pig kidney used for the transplant, which had undergone modifications to eliminate harmful pig genes and incorporate specific human genes, as stated by the hospital.

Slayman, who grappled with Type 2 diabetes and hypertension, had undergone a human kidney transplant in 2018, which began to fail after five years.

When the hospital announced the successful transplant in March, Slayman expressed his consent to the procedure, stating it was not only to aid himself but also to offer hope to the countless individuals awaiting transplants for survival.

In a message shared on Mass General's website, his family expressed deep sorrow over his sudden passing but found solace in the inspiration he provided to many.

With more than 89,000 patients listed on the national kidney waiting list as of March this year, an average of 17 individuals perish each day while awaiting organ transplants.

Slayman's family extended gratitude to the medical team for their exhaustive efforts in facilitating the xenotransplant procedure, which provided them with seven additional weeks with Rick.

Reflecting on his legacy, the family highlighted his aspiration to instill hope in those awaiting transplants, affirming that his impact would continue to motivate patients, researchers, and healthcare professionals.

Xenotransplantation, the transplantation of organs across species, is an evolving field. Approximately a month following Slayman's surgery, surgeons at NYU Langone Health in New York conducted a similar transplant on Lisa Pisano, who suffered from heart failure and end-stage kidney disease.

While pig kidneys had previously been transplanted into brain-dead patients, Slayman was the first living individual to undergo such a procedure.

In 2023, genetically modified pig hearts were transplanted into two patients at the University of Maryland, but both survived for less than two months.

Mass General noted that Slayman's transplant was performed under a "compassionate use" policy, permitting patients with severe or life-threatening conditions to access experimental therapies not yet sanctioned by the US Food and Drug Administration.