Slayman died just two months after the transplant

Richard Slayman, the 62-year-old man who received the first ever transplant of a genetically engineered pig’s kidney, has died, two months after the procedure.

Slayman received the genetically modified kidney during a four-hour procedure at Massachusetts General Hospital in March, and was discharged two weeks later.

According to the hospital, there’s no indication Slayman died as a result of the procedure.

“The Mass General transplant team is deeply saddened at the sudden passing of Mr. Rick Slayman. We have no indication that it was the result of his recent transplant,” Massachusetts General Hospital said in a statement.

Slayman’s procedure was not the first “xenotransplant,” where an animal’s organ is transplanted into the human body.

Attempts at xenotransplants have failed for decades, because the human body’s immune system attacks and destroys the foreign tissue. In recent years, genetic modification has been used in an attempt to reduce or eliminate rejection.

In 2022 and then again in 2023, a genetically modified pig’s heart was transplanted into a human. In both cases, the recipients died soon after receiving the donor organs.

On the first attempt, David Bennett survived two months before his new heart failed. A subsequent examination of the organ revealed it to contain a pig virus.

The second attempt was also a failure. Lawrence Faucette died six weeks after receiving his transplant.

Slayman had been on kidney dialysis for years before receiving a human kidney transplant in 2018.

The kidney began to fail in 2023, and Slayman was forced to resume dialysis.

Slayman was then offered the chance to undergo a new form of “xenotransplant.” A pig’s kidney was genetically edited using CRISPR-Cas9  technology. Certain pig genes were removed and replaced with human genes to improve the organ’s compatibility with the donor. The kidney was provided by eGenesis, a pharmaceutical company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Mr Slayman’s family said in a statement that, although he died, he achieved his desire to provide hope for others awaiting organ transplants.

“Rick accomplished that goal and his hope and optimism will endure forever. His legacy will be one that inspires patients, researchers, and health care professionals everywhere.”

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