First man to receive pig kidney transplant returns home after successful operation

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 relieved from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) on Wednesday in a moment that marks a “new beginning”, he said in a statement issued by the hospital.

The patient from Weymouth, Massachusetts was battling end-stage kidney disease. He received the kidney transplant in a four-hour-long operation on 16 March.

His discharge is being hailed as a major landmark for medical science after two previous attempts to transplant organs from genetically modified pigs failed.

The kidney transplanted to Mr Slayman is functioning properly, producing urine, removing waste from the blood and maintaining the balance in the body’s fluids, according to doctors at the hospital.

“This moment – leaving the hospital today with one of the cleanest bills of health I’ve had in a long time – is one I wished would come for many years,” he said in the statement. “Now it’s a reality.”

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

“Today marks a new beginning not just for me, but for them as well,” Mr Slayman said.

Pig kidney transplant patient Richard Slayman, who was discharged from hospital on Wednesday

(Massachusetts General Hospital)

“I’m excited to resume spending time with my family, friends and loved ones free from the burden of dialysis that has affected my quality of life for many years,” he added.

The kidney came from a pig that was bred with 69 genetic modifications to make it suitable for human transplantation. It was supplied by eGenesis, a Massachusetts biotechnology company who say they removed “harmful pig genes and added certain human genes to improve its compatibility with humans”.

Rick Slayman with doctors during discharge

(Massachusetts General Hospital)

Two previous xenotransplantations – meaning animal-to-human transplantations – from pigs have failed and both patients who received hearts died a few weeks later. The immune system of one of the patients had rejected the organ.

Whether Mr Slayman’s body rejects the kidney is still yet to be seen, doctors have said.

The breakthrough has raised hopes for over 100,000 Americans who are on waiting lists for a kidney transplant and more than 550,000 Americans who have suffered kidney failure, requiring dialysis.

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