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Saturday, April 13, 2024

US Surgeons Successfully Perform World’s First Transplant of Pig Kidney into Human Patient

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Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has announced the world’s first successful transplant of a “genetically-edited” pig kidney into a 62-year-old man living with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD).

The four-hour-long surgery was carried out on Saturday, 16 March by a team of surgeons from the Mass General Transplant Centre, according to a press release published Thursday on the official website of the hospital.


“The procedure marks a major milestone in the quest to provide more readily available organs to patients,” the hospital said.

The hospital explained that the pig kidney used for the transplant was genetically edited using technology to remove harmful pig genes and add certain human genes to improve its compatibility with humans.

There is an ever-increasing shortage of human organ transplants around the world and the Boston hospital said there are more than 1,400 patients on the waiting list for a kidney transplant at MGH alone.


Organ transplant

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), more than 100,000 people in the U.S. await an organ for transplant and 17 people die each day waiting for an organ.

The hospital noted that a kidney is the most common organ needed for transplant, and end-stage kidney disease rates are estimated to increase 29-68 per cent in the US by 2030, according to literature published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

The hospital said the patient, Richard Slayman of Weymouth, Massachusetts, “is recovering well at MGH and is expected to be discharged soon.”

Mr Slayman, who suffers from Type 2 diabetes and hypertension, received a transplant of a human kidney in 2018 but it began to fail five years later and he has been on dialysis.


Mr Slayman said: “I saw it not only as a way to help me but a way to provide hope for the thousands of people who need a transplant to survive.”

Mr Slayman’s Nephrologist, Winfred Williams described it as a “potential breakthrough” in solving one of the more intractable problems in our field, and be of particular benefit to ethnic minorities who suffer from high rates of kidney disease.

“This health disparity has been the target of many national policy initiatives for over 30 years, with only limited success,” Mr Slayman’s Nephrologist, Winfred Williams was quoted.

“An abundant supply of organs resulting from this technological advance may go far to finally achieve health equity and offer the best solution to kidney failure, a well-functioning kidney to all patients in need,” Mr Williams said.

First to happen

The transplantation of organs from one species to another is a growing field known as xenotransplantation.

Pig kidneys had been transplanted previously into brain-dead patients but Mr Slayman is the first living person to receive one.

“The real hero today is the patient, Mr Slayman, as the success of this pioneering surgery, once deemed unimaginable, would not have been possible without his courage and willingness to embark on a journey into uncharted medical territory,” Director of the MGH Transplant Center, Joren Madsen said.

“As the global medical community celebrates this monumental achievement, Mr. Slayman becomes a beacon of hope for countless individuals suffering from end-stage renal disease and opens a new frontier in organ transplantation.”


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