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First Recipient of Genetically Modified Pig Kidney Transplant Dies Two Months After Procedure

Richard “Rick” Slayman, aged 62, who underwent a groundbreaking genetically modified pig kidney transplant in March, has passed away, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) confirmed.

Slayman suffered from end-stage kidney disease before undergoing the pioneering operation. While there is no indication that his death was a direct result of the transplant, the hospital stated.

Although transplants of organs from genetically modified pigs have previously failed, Slayman’s procedure was heralded as a historic milestone. In addition to kidney disease, Slayman battled Type 2 diabetes and hypertension. His previous human kidney transplant began to fail after five years.

Following the pig kidney transplant on March 16, doctors confirmed that Slayman no longer required dialysis as the new organ was functioning well.

“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,” MGH expressed in a statement.

Xenotransplantation involves transplanting living cells, tissues, or organs from one species to another. MGH conveyed deep sadness at Slayman’s sudden demise and extended condolences to his family.

Slayman’s relatives described his story as an inspiration, highlighting his goal of providing hope for thousands in need of transplants.

“Rick accomplished that goal, and his hope and optimism will endure forever. To us, Rick was a kind-hearted man with a quick-witted sense of humor who was fiercely dedicated to his family, friends, and co-workers,” they shared.

While Slayman received the first pig kidney transplanted into a human, previous attempts with pig organs, including heart transplants, have not been successful. Two other patients who received pig heart transplants died shortly after the procedures. In one case, signs of organ rejection, a common risk in transplants, were observed.

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