US man who received first modified pig kidney transplant dies

New York, May 12 (IANS/dpa): The world's first patient to receive a pig kidney transplant has died almost two months after the operation.

In March, Massachusetts General Hospital transplanted a genetically edited pig kidney into Rick Slayman, a 62-year-old man suffering from end-stage kidney disease.

The hospital said at the time that the operation was a milestone in xenotransplantation, the transplantation of organs or tissues from one species to another – as a potential solution to the worldwide organ shortage. The hospital said Saturday that Slayman's death was not related to the transplant.

His family said, “Our family is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of our beloved Rick, but it takes great comfort to know that he inspired so many people.”

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Slayman's family paid tribute to the medical team that cared for him.

“His tremendous efforts for the xenotransplant gave our family seven more weeks with Rick, and the memories we made during that time will remain in our hearts and minds.”

The kidney came from a pig that was genetically edited to remove harmful pig genes and add some human genes to improve its compatibility with humans. The scientists also inactivated the porcine endogenous retrovirus in the pig donor to eliminate any risk of infection in humans.

The hospital said it was “deeply saddened” by Slayman's death.

It added, “We have no indication that this was a result of her recent transplant.”

“Mr. Slayman will always be seen as a beacon of hope for countless transplant patients around the world, and we are deeply grateful for his belief and willingness to advance the field of xenotransplantation.”

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