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Montevideo, May 19th 2024 - 08:32 UTC



Recipient of modified pig kidney dies 7 weeks after procedure

Monday, May 13th 2024 - 10:36 UTC
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Slayman had been the first person alive to receive such an organ after several trials on brain-dead bodies Slayman had been the first person alive to receive such an organ after several trials on brain-dead bodies

Rick Slayman, a 62-year-old man who had received a genetically modified pig kidney on March 16 at Massachusetts General Hospital, died this weekend. He had terminal kidney disease when he received the organ during a four-hour operation that was considered a scientific milestone. The transplantation of organs from one species to another is a growing field known as xenotransplantation.

The medical center said it had ”no indication that (the death) was a result of the transplant“ and underlined that ”Slayman will forever be seen as a beacon of hope to countless transplant patients worldwide and we are deeply grateful for his trust and willingness to advance the field of xenotransplantation,“ the hospital statement went on while mentioning something ”sudden“ had caused the patient's passing.

”Their tremendous efforts in leading the xenotransplant gave our family seven more weeks with Rick, and the memories we made in that time will remain in our minds and hearts,“ Slayman's family said about the medical team. The patient, who suffered from Type 2 diabetes and hypertension, had received a human kidney in 2018, but it began to fail five years later. ”After his transplant, Rick said that one of the reasons he underwent this procedure was to provide hope for the thousands of people who need a transplant to survive,“ the relatives added.

The pig kidney was ”edited with 69 genomes” by using CRISPR-Cas9 technology, which consists of removing eventually harmful pig genes and then adding human genes to render it compatible with a human body. In addition, the scientists inactivated endogenous retroviruses in the pig to minimize potential infections. The donor pig was provided by a Massachusetts company called eGenesis, which specializes in transplants and in modifying animal organisms to make them compatible with humans. The surgical team hoped that the pig kidney would last at least two years.

Genetically modified pig kidneys and hearts have been transplanted for experimental purposes on brain-dead bodies. Slayman was the first person alive to receive the treatment. Following Slayman's case, a New York hospital last April performed the world's second transplant of a modified pig kidney into 54-year-old Lisa Pisano.

Organ shortages are a chronic problem worldwide. More than 103,000 people are currently on the waiting list for organs in the United States alone. About 17 die every day unable to find one.

Tags: Rick Slayman.

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