Man who received world’s first genetically-edited pig kidney transplant has died

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

The Massachusetts man who was the recipient of the world’s first successful transplant of a genetically-edited pig kidney has died less than two months after the procedure.Richard Slayman, of Weymouth, underwent surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital on March 16 and received a pig kidney with 69 genomic edits.The 62-year-old was released from Mass General on April 3 after weeks of recovery and said he was leaving the hospital “with one of the cleanest bills of health I’ve had in a long time.”In a statement, Massachusetts General Hospital said it has no indication Slayman’s death was the result of his recipient transplant.”The Mass General transplant team is deeply saddened at the sudden passing of Mr. Rick Slayman,” the MGH statement reads. “Mr. 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. We offer our heartfelt condolences to Mr. Slayman’s family and loved ones as they remember an extraordinary person whose generosity and kindness touched all who knew him.” Slayman’s family said they are deeply sadden about his sudden passing, but noted that they take great comfort in knowing he inspired so many.”Millions of people worldwide have come to know Rick’s story. We felt – and still feel – comforted by the optimism he provided patients desperately waiting for a transplant. To us, Rick was a kind-hearted man with a quick-witted sense of humor who was fiercely dedicated to his family, friends, and co-workers,” reads the family’s statement. “We are extremely grateful to his care team across Massachusetts General Hospital and Mass General Brigham … who truly did everything they could to help give Rick a second chance. Their enormous efforts leading the xenotransplant gave our family seven more weeks with Rick, and our memories made during that time will remain in our minds and hearts.”Slayman, who had been living with Type 2 diabetes and hypertension for many years, had end-stage kidney disease at the time of the pig kidney transplant. He previously received a kidney transplant from a deceased human donor in December 2018 after being on dialysis seven years prior.His transplanted human kidney showed signs of failure approximately five years later, and Slayman resumed dialysis in May 2023. After resuming dialysis, Slayman encountered recurrent dialysis vascular access complications requiring visits to the hospital every two weeks for de-clotting and surgical revisions, a common problem among dialysis patients that significantly impacted his quality of life.Slayman said his nephrologist and the MGH Transplant Center team suggested a pig kidney transplant, carefully explaining the pros and cons of this procedure.”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. Rick accomplished that goal and his hope and optimism will endure forever,” Slayman’s family said in their statement. “His legacy will be one that inspires patients, researchers, and health care professionals everywhere. Our family asks for respectful privacy as we remember the beautiful soul of our beloved Rick.”The pig kidney was provided by eGenesis of Cambridge, Massachusetts, from a pig donor that was genetically edited using technology to remove harmful pig genes and add certain human genes to improve its compatibility with humans. Mass General also said scientists deactivated porcine endogenous retroviruses in the pig donor to eliminate any risk of infection in humans.The procedure was performed under a single FDA Expanded Access Protocol – known as compassionate use – granted to a single patient or group of patients with serious, life-threatening illnesses or conditions to gain access to experimental treatments or trials when no comparable treatment options or therapies exist.

The Massachusetts man who was the recipient of the world’s first successful transplant of a genetically-edited pig kidney has died less than two months after the procedure.

Richard Slayman, of Weymouth, underwent surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital on March 16 and received a pig kidney with 69 genomic edits.

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The 62-year-old was released from Mass General on April 3 after weeks of recovery and said he was leaving the hospital “with one of the cleanest bills of health I’ve had in a long time.”

In a statement, Massachusetts General Hospital said it has no indication Slayman’s death was the result of his recipient transplant.

“The Mass General transplant team is deeply saddened at the sudden passing of Mr. Rick Slayman,” the MGH statement reads. “Mr. 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. We offer our heartfelt condolences to Mr. Slayman’s family and loved ones as they remember an extraordinary person whose generosity and kindness touched all who knew him.”

Slayman’s family said they are deeply sadden about his sudden passing, but noted that they take great comfort in knowing he inspired so many.

“Millions of people worldwide have come to know Rick’s story. We felt – and still feel – comforted by the optimism he provided patients desperately waiting for a transplant. To us, Rick was a kind-hearted man with a quick-witted sense of humor who was fiercely dedicated to his family, friends, and co-workers,” reads the family’s statement. “We are extremely grateful to his care team across Massachusetts General Hospital and Mass General Brigham … who truly did everything they could to help give Rick a second chance. Their enormous efforts leading the xenotransplant gave our family seven more weeks with Rick, and our memories made during that time will remain in our minds and hearts.”

Slayman, who had been living with Type 2 diabetes and hypertension for many years, had end-stage kidney disease at the time of the pig kidney transplant. He previously received a kidney transplant from a deceased human donor in December 2018 after being on dialysis seven years prior.

His transplanted human kidney showed signs of failure approximately five years later, and Slayman resumed dialysis in May 2023. After resuming dialysis, Slayman encountered recurrent dialysis vascular access complications requiring visits to the hospital every two weeks for de-clotting and surgical revisions, a common problem among dialysis patients that significantly impacted his quality of life.

Slayman said his nephrologist and the MGH Transplant Center team suggested a pig kidney transplant, carefully explaining the pros and cons of this procedure.

“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. Rick accomplished that goal and his hope and optimism will endure forever,” Slayman’s family said in their statement. “His legacy will be one that inspires patients, researchers, and health care professionals everywhere. Our family asks for respectful privacy as we remember the beautiful soul of our beloved Rick.”

The pig kidney was provided by eGenesis of Cambridge, Massachusetts, from a pig donor that was genetically edited using technology to remove harmful pig genes and add certain human genes to improve its compatibility with humans. Mass General also said scientists deactivated porcine endogenous retroviruses in the pig donor to eliminate any risk of infection in humans.

The procedure was performed under a single FDA Expanded Access Protocol – known as compassionate use – granted to a single patient or group of patients with serious, life-threatening illnesses or conditions to gain access to experimental treatments or trials when no comparable treatment options or therapies exist.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.

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