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First genetically modified pig kidney transplant recipient released from hospital


The first man to get a kidney transplant from a genetically modified pig has been discharged from the medical facility.


A 62-year-old patient was discharged on Wednesday, following a remarkable surgery performed at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) two weeks ago.


Past attempts at organ transplants from genetically modified pigs have been unsuccessful.


Scientists have hailed the success of this procedure as a historic milestone in the field of transplantation.


MGH, the largest teaching hospital affiliated with Harvard Medical School in Boston, announced the news in a press release on Wednesday.


The hospital issued a statement stating that Richard "Rick" Slayman from Weymouth, Massachusetts, had been struggling with end-stage kidney disease and needed an organ transplant.


On March 16, his physicians performed a successful four-hour procedure to transplant a genetically altered pig kidney into his body.


According to reports, Mr. Slayman's kidney has shown significant improvement and he has been able to discontinue dialysis treatment.


Being allowed to leave the hospital and return home was described as "one of the happiest moments" of Mr Slayman's life in a statement.

"After enduring the impact of dialysis on my quality of life for numerous years, I am thrilled to finally have the opportunity to reconnect with my family, friends, and loved ones."


Last year, his human kidney transplant from a deceased donor started to fail, prompting doctors to consider the possibility of a pig kidney transplant.


"I viewed it not just as a personal benefit, but as a source of hope for the countless individuals who rely on transplants for their survival," he expressed.


The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical firm eGenesis altered the new pig kidney he was given, removing "harmful pig genes and adding certain human genes to improve its compatibility with humans," according to the company's statement.


The hospital highlighted its experience in pioneering the world's first successful human organ transplant, specifically a kidney, back in 1954. Additionally, it emphasised the extensive research it had collaborated on with eGenesis regarding xenotransplantation, which involves the transplantation of organs between different species, over the past five years.


The Food and Drug Administration has approved the procedure, providing a single Expanded Access Protocol, also referred to as compassionate use. This protocol is typically reserved for patients with life-threatening illnesses, granting them access to experimental treatment.


The team responsible for the transplant is touting it as a groundbreaking development that could address the global shortage of organs, particularly among ethnic minority communities who are disproportionately impacted by this shortage.


The potential for a plentiful supply of organs as a result of this technological breakthrough could be a significant step towards achieving health equity and providing the optimal solution for kidney failure - a fully functional kidney - to all patients requiring it. stated Dr Winfred Williams, the physician overseeing Mr Slayman's treatment at MGH.


Recent data from the United Network for Organ Sharing, a US non-profit organisation, reveals that over 100,000 Americans are in dire need of a life-saving organ transplant.


In 2023, the total number of donors, both deceased and living, amounted to approximately 23,500.


Every day in the US, an estimated 17 individuals lose their lives while awaiting an organ transplant. Among the organs in the highest demand for transplantation, kidneys top the list.


Although this marks the inaugural instance of a pig kidney being transplanted into a human, it is not the initial occasion where a pig organ has been utilised in a transplant procedure.


Two additional patients have undergone pig heart transplants, but unfortunately, those operations proved to be unsuccessful as the recipients tragically passed away mere weeks later. There were indications of the patient's immune system rejecting the organ, a well-known risk in transplantation cases.

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