Man Dies Weeks After Getting Pig Kidney Transplant

62-year-old American, Richard “Rick” Slayman, passed away just two months after becoming the first to receive a kidney from a genetically modified pig. The Massachusetts General Hospital, where Mr. Slayman underwent the historic medical transplant, expressed deep sadness at his death, stating that there was “no indication that it was the result of his recent transplant.”

Mr. Slayman was battling end-stage kidney disease, a condition affecting over 800,000 individuals in the United States, with disproportionately higher prevalence among Black people. The scarcity of available kidneys for donation is a pressing issue, with nearly 90,000 people currently on the national waiting list for a kidney transplant.

Having previously received a human kidney in 2018, Mr. Slayman faced deteriorating health in 2023, leading to congestive heart failure. Subsequently, his medical team proposed the novel approach of utilizing a kidney from a genetically modified pig. In March, Mr. Slayman shared his perspective, seeing the procedure not only as a personal lifeline but also as a beacon of hope for countless others awaiting organ transplants.

The four-hour surgery marked a significant milestone in the field of medicine. Xenotransplantation, the concept of transplanting animal organs into humans, has long been explored, with challenges arising from the human immune system’s rejection of foreign tissue.

Recent advancements in genetic engineering paved the way for modifying animal organs to enhance compatibility with human recipients. The pig kidney transplanted into Mr. Slayman was developed by eGenesis, a biotech firm in Cambridge, Mass., which engineered the organ to minimize rejection risks and prevent potential harm from retroviruses carried by pigs.

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