Pig Kidney Transplanted in Human for First Time by US Surgeons

A 62-year-old man suffering from near-death renal disease became the first human to receive a new kidney from a genetically modified pig.  This first of its kind kidney transplantation was announced on Thursday by the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

The four-hour surgery, performed on March 16, “marks a major milestone in the quest to provide more readily available organs to patients,” the hospital said in a statement.

The patient, Richard Slayman of Weymouth, Massachusetts, is recovering well and expected to be discharged soon, the hospital said.

It was a groundbreaking animal-to-human transplant. Slayman was transplanted with a human kidney at the same hospital in 2018 after spending seven years on dialysis. But the transplanted kidney failed after five years and he had to get back to regular dialysis.

The pig kidney transplanted to Slayman was provided by eGenesis of Cambridge, Massachusetts, from a pig that had been genetically edited to remove genes harmful to a human recipient and add certain human genes to improve compatibility. The company also inactivated viruses inherent to pigs that have the potential to infect humans.

Kidneys from similarly edited pigs raised by eGenesis had successfully been transplanted into monkeys that were kept alive for an average of 176 days.

The surgery marks progress in xenotransplantation – the transplanting of organs or tissues from one species to another.

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

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