Pig kidney transplanted for the first time into living person

Massachusetts General Hospital announced on Thursday that it successfully was able to transplant a pig kidney into a 62-year-old man.

BOSTON — Massachusetts General Hospital announced on Thursday that it successfully transplanted a pig kidney into a 62-year-old man.

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The man who received the first-ever pig kidney transplant has been living with end-stage kidney disease, the hospital said. The procedure took about four hours and was done on March 16 at the Mass General Transplant Center.

The man was identified by WFXT as Richard “Rick” Slayman. He is recovering at Massachusetts General Hospital and expected to be discharged in the near future.

The surgical team was made up of Dr. Tatsuo Kawai, Dr. Nahel Elias and Dr. Leonardo Riella, the hospital said. A genetically-edited pig kidney with 69 genomic edits was used in the procedure.

Kawai said that the pig kidney could work for about two years, The Associated Press reported. If the pig kidney doesn’t work, then Slayman might need to go back on dialysis, kidney specialist Dr. Winfred Williams said.

Slayman had a kidney transplant in 2018 at the same hospital, but after it failed, he had to go back on dialysis, the AP reported. There were some complications with the dialysis, and doctors recommended the pig kidney transplant, Slayman said in a statement.

“The real hero today is the patient, Mr. Slayman, as the success of this pioneering surgery, once deemed unimaginable, would not have been possible without his courage and willingness to embark on a journey into uncharted medical territory,” said Joren Madsen, Director of the MGH Transplant Center. “As the global medical community celebrates this monumental achievement, Mr. Slayman becomes a beacon of hope for countless individuals suffering from end-stage renal disease and opens a new frontier in organ transplantation.”

Kawai said the successful surgery was “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,” he said. “Our hope is that this transplant approach will offer a lifeline to millions of patients worldwide who are suffering from kidney failure.”

Mike Curtis, the chief executive officer for the company that provided the pig kidney, eGenesis, said the company was “grateful for the courageous contribution of the patient and to the advancement of transplantation science.”

“We congratulate our collaborators at MGH on this historic milestone,” he said. “We also recognize the work and dedication of the eGenesis team that made this achievement possible. This represents a new frontier in medicine and demonstrates the potential of genome engineering to change the lives of millions of patients globally suffering from kidney failure.”