First pig kidney recipient dies nearly 2 months after transplant

Medical staff says they have no indication that he died as a result of the transplant.
Rick Slayman recipient of pig kidney
Posted at 4:52 PM, May 12, 2024

Rick Slayman, the world's first living recipient of a genetically modified pig kidney transplant, has died nearly two months after the procedure.

Last month, following a four-hour surgery on March 16, Massachusetts General Hospital discharged 62-year-old Slayman. He had bravely been battling end-stage kidney disease before the procedure, but sadly, on Saturday, May 11, the hospital announced his passing.

“The Mass General transplant team is deeply saddened at the sudden passing of Mr. Rick Slayman. 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," the hospital said in a press release.

Rick Slayman sits in a chair in his hospital room surrounded by his medical team

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In a statement, his family says that Slayman was a "kind-hearted man with a quick-witted sense of humor who was fiercely dedicated to his family, friends, and co-workers."

When Massachusetts General Hospital's transplant team first announced Slayman's procedure, they explained that the pig kidney came from a donor pig that underwent genetic editing "to remove harmful pig genes and add certain human genes to improve its compatibility with humans."

According to data from Donate Life America, there are currently over 100,000 people awaiting organ transplants, with approximately 86% of them specifically in need of a kidney.

Following his transplant, Slayman told his family that his primary motivation for undergoing the procedure was to offer hope to the countless individuals reliant on transplants for their survival, the press release states.