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Patient Discharged After Pig Kidney Transplant

A groundbreaking medical achievement unfolded at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) when 62-year-old Richard “Rick” Slayman of Weymouth, Massachusetts, was discharged on Wednesday, marking two weeks since his pioneering surgery. The procedure involved the transplantation of a genetically modified pig kidney, signaling a significant advancement in the field of organ transplantation.

Previous attempts at using organs from genetically modified pigs had met with failure, making this success all the more remarkable and lauded by the scientific community as a historic milestone.

MGH, affiliated with Harvard Medical School, disclosed this momentous development in a press release on Wednesday. Slayman, who had been battling end-stage kidney disease, underwent the groundbreaking surgery on March 16, during which doctors performed a four-hour procedure to transplant the genetically edited pig kidney. Remarkably, Slayman’s new kidney is functioning optimally, freeing him from the burdensome routine of dialysis.

Expressing his gratitude, Slayman described the moment of leaving the hospital and returning home as one of the happiest in his life. He expressed eagerness to resume spending time with his loved ones, unencumbered by the constraints of dialysis that had compromised his quality of life for years.

Slayman’s journey to this groundbreaking surgery began in 2018 when he underwent a human kidney transplant from a deceased donor. Unfortunately, the transplanted kidney began to fail last year, prompting doctors to explore the possibility of a pig kidney transplant. For Slayman, the decision to undergo this innovative procedure was not just a personal choice but also a beacon of hope for the countless individuals in need of transplants.

The pig kidney Slayman received underwent genetic modification by the Cambridge-based pharmaceutical company eGenesis, eliminating harmful pig genes and incorporating certain human genes to enhance compatibility with humans.

MGH, with its rich history of medical breakthroughs, including the world’s first successful human organ transplant in 1954, collaborated with eGenesis over the past five years to advance research on xenotransplantation. The procedure received approval from the Food and Drug Administration under a single Expanded Access Protocol, allowing patients with life-threatening illnesses access to experimental treatments.

Dr. Winfred Williams, Slayman’s physician at MGH, hailed the transplant as a historic stride towards addressing the global organ shortage crisis, particularly affecting ethnic minority communities. The procedure offers a promising solution to kidney failure, ensuring equitable access to well-functioning kidneys for all patients in need.

Despite this monumental achievement, the pressing need for organ transplants persists, with over 100,000 Americans awaiting life-saving procedures. The successful transplantation of a pig kidney into a human represents a significant breakthrough, offering hope for addressing this critical healthcare challenge.

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