1st patient to receive pig kidney transplant dies 2 months after surgery

Richard Slayman, the first person in the world to receive a genetically-edited pig kidney transplant, has died. He underwent the transplant procedure March 16 at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. 

Mr. Slayman, 62, had been discharged from the hospital April 3, 18 days after the four-hour procedure. The pig kidney was provided by Cambridge, Mass.-based eGenesis and contained 69 economic edits meant to improve its compatibility with humans. The procedure had been performed under an FDA Expanded Access Protocol, known as compassionate use, and marked a significant milestone in the field of xenotransplantation, which experts anticipate will one day help mitigate the global organ shortage. 

In a statement, the Mass General transplant team said it is "deeply saddened" at Mr. Slayman's death. There was no indication his death was the result of the transplant, the hospital said. Mr. Slayman had been living with diabetes and hypertension for years, the hospital said. 

"Our family is deeply saddened about the sudden passing of our beloved Rick but take great comfort knowing he inspired so many," his family said in a May 11 statement published by Massachusetts General Hospital. "After his transplant, Rick said that one of the reasons he underwent this procedure was to provide hope for the thousands of people who need a transplant to survive. Rick accomplished that goal and his hope and optimism will endure forever."

Surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Center previously transplanted two genetically modified pig hearts into critically ill patients, both of whom died within weeks after the procedure. 

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