Historic moment as world’s first pig kidney transplant patient leaves hospital

Historic moment as world’s first pig kidney transplant patient leaves hospital

Richard ‘Rick’ Slayman is the first person to receive the pioneering transplant (Picture: MGH)

The first man to receive a genetically-modified pig kidney has been released from hospital in a ‘historic step’.

Richard ‘Rick’ Slayman, 62, received the organ during a four-hour long operation at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) two weeks ago.

Mr Slayman, who had been battling end-stage kidney disease, is now no longer on dialysis.

The pig kidney was modified by Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical company eGenesis, which removed incompatible pig genes and added new human genes to make it a better match.

Two previous attempts to transplant modified pig organs into humans failed when the patients, who both received hearts, died a few weeks after the operation.

However, Mr Slayman is recovering well after what surgeons described as a ‘major milestone in the quest to provide more readily available organs to patients’.

A kidney included human genes added to make it more compatible (Picture: Michelle Rose)

He described leaving hospital after the operation as ‘one of the happiest moments of my life’.

‘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,’ he said.

On volunteering for the pioneering procedure, he added: ‘I saw it not only as a way to help me, but a way to provide hope for the thousands of people who need a transplant to survive.’

Mr Slayman had previously received a human kidney from a deceased donor in 2018 following seven years on dialysis, but it began to fail last year.

Dr Tatsuo Kawai, a director at MGH, said: ‘The success of this transplant is the culmination of efforts by thousands of scientists and physicians over several decades. We are privileged to have played a significant role in this milestone.

‘Our hope is that this transplant approach will offer a lifeline to millions of patients worldwide who are suffering from kidney failure.’

The operation took four hours (Picture: Michelle Rose)

MGH, Harvard University’s largest teaching hospital, performed the world’s first successful human organ transplant in 1954 – a kidney.

The transplant of organs from one species to another is known as xenotransplantation, and is seen by the team behind the operation as a way to help solve the shortage of organs for those in desperate need.

Dr Winfred Williams, a nephrologist at the hospital, said: ‘The continued success of this groundbreaking kidney transplant represents a true milestone in the field of transplantation.

‘It also represents a potential breakthrough in solving one of the more intractable problems in our field, that being unequal access for ethnic minority patients to the opportunity for kidney transplants due to the extreme donor organ shortage and other system-based barriers.

‘An abundant supply of organs resulting from this technological advance may go far to finally achieve health equity and offer the best solution to kidney failure – a well-functioning kidney – to all patients in need.

‘I commend Mr Slayman, who has been my patient for many years, for his courageousness in becoming a trailblazer in the field of transplantation.’

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