Massachusetts man, recipient of first successful pig kidney transplant, is discharged from hospital

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The first person to receive a genetically modified pig kidney transplant has been discharged from Massachusetts General Hospital, the hospital announced on Wednesday.

Rick Slayman, 62, had end-stage kidney disease before receiving the life-saving transplant on March 16.

The pig kidney was genetically edited to make it more compatible with a human recipient and to eliminate the risk of infection.

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“This moment – leaving the hospital today with one of the cleanest bills of health I’ve had in a long time – is one I wished would come for many years,” Slayman said in a statement. 

“Now, it’s a reality and one of the happiest moments of my life.”

Rick Slayman split

Rick Slayman, 62, had end-stage kidney disease before he received the life-saving transplant on March 16. (Courtesy Michelle Rose/Massachusetts General Hospital)

“I want to thank everyone at Massachusetts General Hospital who cared for me before and after my historic transplant, especially Dr. [Winifred] Williams, Dr. [Leonardo] Riella, Dr. [Tatsuo] Kawai, and the countless nurses who looked after me every day of my stay,” he continued. 

“The care I received was exceptional and I trust [the] physicians of the Mass General Brigham health system with my life.”

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Slayman also said, “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 … My recovery is progressing smoothly and I ask for privacy at this time.”

Slayman received his first kidney transplant from a human donor in 2017. 

His organ began failing again in May 2023, when he went on dialysis.

Slayman with (left to right) Dr. Leo Riella, Medical Director of Kidney Transplantation, Dr. Nahel Elias, Interim Chief, Division of Transplant Surgery, his partner, Faren, and Dr. Tatsuo Kawai, Director, Legorreta Center for Clinical Transplant Tolerance

Slayman, sitting down, along with — left to right — Dr. Leo Riella, medical director of kidney transplantation; Dr. Nahel Elias, interim chief, division of transplant surgery; Slayman’s partner, Faren; and Dr. Tatsuo Kawai, director, Legorreta Center for Clinical Transplant Tolerance.  (Michelle Rose/Massachusetts General Hospital)

“The success of this transplant is the culmination of efforts by thousands of scientists and physicians over several decades,” said Tatsuo Kawai, M.D., PhD, director of the Legorreta Center for Clinical Transplant Tolerance at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), in a press release following the surgery.

“This moment – leaving the hospital today with one of the cleanest bills of health I’ve had in a long time – is one I wished would come for many years.”

“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,” he also said.

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Slayman has been a patient at Mass General Transplant Center for 11 years.

The successful surgery marks a “historic milestone” in xenotransplantation, which is the transplant of organs across species, the hospital noted.

Slayman hugs his patient advocate, Susan Klein, before being discharged.

Slayman hugs his patient advocate, Susan Klein, before he is discharged. (Michelle Rose/Massachusetts General Hospital)

This type of procedure could potentially provide an alternative solution to the global organ shortage.

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More than 100,000 people in the U.S. are currently on waiting lists for organ transplants — and 17 of those die each day, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).

At MGH alone, more than 1,400 patients are currently on the waiting list for a kidney transplant.

Slayman with (left to right) Elias, Kawai, and Riella

Slayman with, from left to right, Drs. Elias, Kawai and Riella. (Michelle Rose/Massachusetts General Hospital)

Kidneys top the list of the most commonly needed organs, as end-stage kidney disease is expected to increase by anywhere from 29% to 69% by 2030.

MGH previously performed the world’s first human organ transplant, of a kidney, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 1954.

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Fox News Digital reached out to MGH and additional physicians requesting comment.

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