First pig kidney transplant patient discharged

Richard Slayman said he was "excited to start spending time with his family again"

3 mins read
Rick Slayman with doctors at discharge (Massachusetts General Hospital)

The world’s first patient to receive a genetically modified kidney transplant from a pig has been discharged from hospital and is returning home, just two weeks after the groundbreaking surgery.

Richard Slayman, 62, was discharged from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) on Wednesday, saying it meant “a new beginning,” according to a hospital statement.

The patient, who lives in Weymouth, Massachusetts, USA, was struggling with end-stage kidney disease. The kidney transplant was performed on March 16 in a 4-hour operation.

After two previous attempts to transplant organs from genetically modified pigs failed, the discharge of this patient is considered an important milestone in medical science.

According to doctors at the hospital, Slayman’s transplanted kidney is functioning properly, producing urine, filtering waste from the blood and maintaining the balance of body fluids.

“This moment, leaving the hospital today with one of the cleanest medical reports I have had in a long time, was a moment I have wished for many years to come,” Slayman said in a statement.

Now it is real.

He thanked his doctors, surgeons and nurses for the “exceptional care” he received, saying that returning home was “one of the happiest moments” of his life.

“Today is a new beginning not only for me, but also for them,” Slayman said.

I am excited to start spending time with my family, friends and loved ones again, free from the burden of dialysis, which has affected my quality of life for many years.

The kidney came from a pig that was bred with 69 genetic modifications to make the organ suitable for transplantation into humans. The kidney was provided by Massachusetts-based biotech company eGenesis, which says it “removed harmful pig genes and added some human genes to improve its compatibility with humans.”

Two previous xenotransplants (animal-to-human transplants) from pigs had failed and both patients who received the heart died a few weeks later. One patient’s immune system rejected the organ.

Doctors said it was not yet clear whether Slayman’s body would reject the kidney.

This major breakthrough has raised hopes for more than 100,000 Americans on the waiting list for a kidney transplant and more than 550,000 Americans who have to undergo dialysis for kidney failure.


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