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pig kidney transplant - Close up medical intravenous IV drip in hospital background

Source: Kwangmoozaa / Getty

The Massachusetts man who became the first person to receive a genetically edited pig kidney has died. 

Richard “Rick” Slayman underwent the procedure back in March at Massachusetts General Hospital at the age of 62. The kidney was supposed to last for 2 years. 

“The care I received was exceptional and I trust the physicians of the Mass General Brigham health system with my life,” Slayman said upon discharge in April after the procedure. “I’m excited to resume spending time with my family, friends, and loved ones free from the burden of dialysis that has affected my quality of life for many years.”

Before receiving the organ, he had been living with type 2 diabetes and hypertension for years. He previously received a kidney transplant from a dead human donor in December 2018 after being on dialysis seven years before that. That transplanted kidney showed signs of failure about five years later and Slayman resumed dialysis in May 2023.

SEE ALSO: Former NBA Player Nate Robinson’s Alma Mater Helps Him Look For Kidney Donor

After consulting with his medical team, he decided to get the pig kidney transplant to extend his life. The pig kidney he received was genetically edited to ensure the organ was more humanlike. Previous xenotransplantation efforts failed because the human immune system immediately destroyed foreign animal tissue. Xenotransplantation refers to healing human patients with cells, tissues or organs from animals. 

But, Slayman’s life was cut short as he only lived for seven weeks after the surgery. The hospital has not shared his exact cause of death, but said there’s no indication the transplant was a factor. 

“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,” a statement from Massachusetts General Hospital. “We offer our heartfelt condolences to Mr. Slayman’s family and loved ones as they remember an extraordinary person whose generosity and kindness touched all who knew him.”

Slayman’s family released a statement of their own thanking his doctors and saying he underwent the surgery to provide hope for the thousands of people who need a transplant to survive. 

More than 100,000 people are on the national waiting list for a transplant. Most of them are kidney patients and thousands of them die every year before their turn comes.

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First Person To Receive Pig Kidney Transplant Dies  was originally published on elev8.com