The first person to undergo a genetically modified pig kidney transplant has died

Richard “Rick” Slayman, the first human to undergo a genetically modified pig kidney transplant, has died nearly two months after the procedure.

Slayman, who had end-stage kidney disease, underwent the transplant in March at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston at the age of 62.

The hospital said in a statement on Saturday that there was “no indication” that his death was the result of the transplant. The transplant surgeon had said he hoped the transplant would function for at least two years.

“The Mass General transplant team is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Mr. Rick Slayman,” the hospital statement said. “Mr. Slayman will forever be seen as a beacon of hope for countless transplant patients around the world and we are deeply grateful for his trust and willingness to advance the field of xenotransplantation.”

The operation was a milestone in the field of xenotransplantation – the transplantation of organs from one species to another – as a way to alleviate the organ shortage for people in need of transplants. The attempt to genetically modify animal organs is in the hope that the human body will not reject the foreign tissue.

In a statement from the hospital, Slayman’s family thanked his doctors: “Their tremendous efforts in directing the xenotransplant gave our family seven more weeks with Rick, and the memories we made during that time will remain in our minds and hearts to stay.”

His family said he was friendly, quick-witted and “strongly committed to his family, friends and colleagues.”

“After his transplant, Rick said one of the reasons he underwent this procedure was to provide hope for the thousands of people who need a transplant to survive,” the report continued. “Rick achieved that goal and his hope and optimism will live on forever.”

Last month, a 54-year-old New Jersey woman became the second person ever to undergo a genetically modified pig kidney transplant.

Well over 100,000 people in the US are on the waiting list for organs. Thousands die every year before they can get one.

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