Good night: Patient with pig kidney transplant dies


“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. Now, it’s a reality and one of the happiest moments of my life. I want to thank everyone at Massachusetts General Hospital who cared for me before and after my historic transplant, especially Dr. Williams, Dr. Riella, Dr. Kawai, and the countless nurses who looked after me every day of my stay. The care I received was exceptional and I trust physicians of the Mass General Brigham health system with my life. 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. Lastly, I want to thank anyone who has seen my story and sent well-wishes, especially patients waiting for a kidney transplant. Today marks a new beginning not just for me, but for them, as well. My recovery is progressing smoothly and I ask for privacy at this time.”

These were the words of Rick Slayman two months ago when he was discharged after the historical operation.

Unfortunately, the world’s first patient with a transplanted pig kidney has died.

In March, Massachusetts General Hospital transplanted the genetically-edited pig kidney into Slayman, a 62-year-old man living with end-stage kidney disease.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria, the operation was a milestone in xenotransplantation – the transplantation of organs or tissues from one species to another – as a potential solution to the worldwide organ shortage, the hospital said at the time.

Slayman’s death was not linked to the transplant, the hospital reported.

“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 on Sunday.

Slayman’s family paid tribute to the medical team that cared for him.

“Their enormous efforts leading the xenotransplant gave our family seven more weeks with Rick, and our memories made during that time will remain in our minds and hearts.”

The pig kidney came from a pig that was genetically-edited to remove harmful pig genes and add certain human genes to improve its compatibility with humans. Scientists also inactivated porcine endogenous retroviruses in the pig donor to eliminate any risk of infection in humans.

The hospital said it was “deeply saddened” by Slayman’s death.

“We have no indication that it was the result of his recent transplant,”

“Mr. Slayman will forever be seen as a beacon of hope to countless transplant patients worldwide and we are deeply grateful for his trust and willingness to advance the field of xenotransplantation,”it said.

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