The man who received the first pig kidney transplant dies at 62

image Source, Massachusetts General Hospital

image Caption, Richard “Rick” Slayman, 62, was the first person in the world to receive a pig kidney

  • Author, hafsa khalil
  • Role, BBC News

The first person to receive a genetically modified pig kidney transplant has died two months after the operation, the hospital that carried out the procedure has said.

Richard “Rick” Slayman, 62, was suffering from end-stage kidney disease before undergoing surgery in March.

Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) said on Sunday there was no indication his death was caused by the transplant.

Transplants of other organs from genetically modified pigs have failed in the past, but Mr. Slayman’s operation was hailed as a historic milestone.

In addition to kidney disease, Mr. Slayman also suffered from type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. In 2018, he had a human kidney transplant, but it started failing after five years.

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

“Mr. Slayman will always be seen as a beacon of hope for countless transplant patients around the world and we are deeply grateful for his belief and willingness to advance the field of xenotransplantation,” MGH said in a statement.

Xenotransplantation is the transplantation of living cells, tissues, or organs from one species to another.

MGH said it was “deeply saddened” by his sudden death and expressed condolences to his family.

Mr Slayman’s relatives said his story was an inspiration.

“Rick said one of the reasons he went through this procedure was to provide hope to the thousands of people who need a transplant to survive,” he said.

“Rick accomplished that goal and his hope and optimism will live on forever.

He added, “To us, Rick was a man with a kind heart and a quick-witted sense of humor who was deeply devoted to his family, friends and colleagues.”

While Mr. Slayman received the first pig kidney to be transplanted into a human, it is not the first pig organ to be used in a transplant procedure.

Two other patients have received pig heart transplants, but those procedures were unsuccessful as the recipients died a few weeks later.

In one case, there were signs that the patient’s immune system had rejected the organ, a common risk in transplants.

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