First Successful Pig Kidney Transplant into a Human Achieved by Surgeons

By iMedix
Updated 2024-03-26 15:29:48 | Published 2024-03-26 15:29:48
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A highly realistic and detailed image that symbolizes the groundbreaking medical achievement of the first successful pig kidney transplant

Richard Slayman, a 62-year-old man, recently underwent a groundbreaking medical procedure at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston where he received a genetically modified pig kidney. Slayman, who had been on dialysis due to kidney failure, participated in this pioneering four-hour surgery last Saturday, led by Dr. Winfred Williams of Mass General's nephrology division. This historic event marks a significant advancement in xenotransplantation, offering hope to thousands in the U.S. waiting for organ transplants.

Over 100,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for organ transplants, including about 90,000 in need of kidneys. While this approach shows promise, xenotransplantation is not without risks, as demonstrated by the limited survival time in two previous pig-to-human heart transplants.

Post-surgery, Slayman is recovering well at Mass General, with no signs of kidney rejection and stable vital signs. Doctors continue to monitor him closely, especially for a specific virus that previously affected a patient who received a genetically modified pig heart.

Dr. Jayme Locke from the University of Alabama Birmingham Heersink School of Medicine notes the potential of the pig kidney either as a temporary solution or a permanent fix. The transplant is seen as a game-changer in the field.

Currently, xenotransplantation is not FDA-approved and is seen as a potential answer to the global organ shortage, though widespread use is still years away. Slayman's transplant was performed under the FDA’s compassionate use program for experimental treatments.

The case of Slayman, who had previously received a kidney transplant from a deceased donor, highlights the dire need for alternative solutions to kidney failure, affecting approximately 800,000 people in the U.S. Dr. Leonardo Riella of Mass General suggested the pig kidney transplant, with the kidney sourced from eGenesis in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The kidney underwent 69 gene edits to minimize rejection and infection risks.

Dr. Tatsuo Kawai, who performed the surgery, shared the team's excitement when the transplanted kidney functioned immediately. The pig kidney, remarkably similar to a human kidney, symbolizes a significant step forward in organ transplantation.

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