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  • Writer's pictureVolume 82 Magazine

Patient Who Received First-Ever Pig 'Kidney' Transplant Died Seven Weeks Later

Richard Slayman. Photo/Massachusetts General Hospital

Richard Slayman, 62, the first man to receive a genetically modified pig kidney transplant, passed away seven weeks after the procedure was done in Massachusetts. Richard was a diabetic and reportedly suffered from hypertension and kidney disease as well, which made him a viable candidate for the transplant.   

Although Slayman did not survive long after the operation, the surgery was considered a significant breakthrough in medicine. According to The Week, Slayman's family said he accomplished his goal of providing "hope for the thousands of people who need a transplant to survive." Slayman reportedly no longer needed dialysis following the procedure. The hospital that performed the surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), said "there was no indication his death was a result of the transplant," according to a BBC news report. However, animal-to-human transplants are typically unsuccessful, as the human body sees animal tissues as foreign objects. This is why medical scientists used a genetically modified pig kidney for the transplant. Genetic engineering and scientific advancements have allowed scientists to manipulate animal genes and organs to make them more compatible with the human body. 

The hospital said, "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 (transplanting of living cells, tissues or organs from one species to another)," MGH said in a statement.

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