Pioneering Pig Kidney Transplant Patient Passes Away, A Trailblazer’s Legacy

The pioneering recipient of a genetically modified pig kidney transplant, Richard “Rick” Slayman, has passed away two months post-surgery, as confirmed by the hospital conducting the procedure.

Slayman, aged 62, was grappling with end-stage kidney disease before undergoing the groundbreaking operation in March at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). MGH clarified that there’s no evidence linking his demise to the transplant. According to reports by NPR

While previous attempts at transplanting organs from genetically modified pigs faced setbacks, Slayman’s procedure was lauded as a historic breakthrough. Alongside kidney disease, Slayman battled Type 2 diabetes and hypertension, having undergone a human kidney transplant in 2018, which faltered after five years.

Post his pig kidney transplant on March 16, Slayman’s doctors reported his independence from dialysis, indicating the new organ’s successful function. MGH expressed gratitude for Slayman’s contribution to advancing xenotransplantation, the process of transplanting living cells, tissues, or organs across species.

His family described Slayman’s decision as a beacon of hope for countless transplant candidates worldwide. They remember him as a compassionate individual with a spirited sense of humor, dedicated to his loved ones. told the BBC

While Slayman’s pig kidney transplant marked a significant milestone, it wasn’t the inaugural instance of utilizing pig organs in transplants.

However, previous attempts, including two pig heart transplants, were unsuccessful, with recipients succumbing within weeks, primarily due to immune rejection—a common risk in transplant procedures.

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