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First human to receive pig kidney transplant dies

A man with end-stage kidney disease who earlier this year became the first human to receive a new kidney from a genetically modified pig has died, Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston said.

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

Slayman, 62, of Weymouth, Massachusetts, received the transplant in March, in a four-hour surgery that the hospital at the time called “an important milestone in the quest to provide more readily available organs to patients.”

“Our family is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of our beloved Rick, but it brings great comfort to know that he inspired so many,” Slayman’s family said in a statement.

Slayman had received a human kidney transplant at the same hospital in 2018 after seven years of dialysis, but the organ failed after five years and he resumed dialysis treatments.

The kidney was provided by eGenesis of Cambridge, Massachusetts, from a pig that was genetically modified to remove genes harmful to a human recipient and add some human genes to improve compatibility, according to the hospital. The company has also inactivated viruses inherent to pigs that have the potential to infect humans.

Similarly modified pig kidneys created by eGenesis were successfully transplanted into monkeys who were kept alive for an average of 176 days and, in one case, for more than two years, researchers reported in October on Nature magazine.

Drugs used to help prevent rejection of the pig organ by the patient’s immune system included an experimental antibody called tegoprubart, developed by Eledon Pharmaceuticals, according to the hospital.

According to a data tracker maintained by the United Network for Organ Sharing, more than 100,000 people in the United States are waiting for an organ for transplant, with the most sought after being kidneys.

Surgeons at New York University have already transplanted pig kidneys into brain-dead people.

A team at the University of Maryland transplanted a genetically modified pig heart into a 57-year-old man with terminal heart disease in January 2022, but he died two months later.

Source: Terra

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