Pig kidney transplanted into man for first time ever at Massachusetts General Hospital

Doctors transplant pig kidney into man in Boston

Doctors transplant pig kidney into man in Boston


BOSTON – For the first time ever, surgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston transplanted a pig kidney into a living human patient.Mass General said Thursday the procedure was the first successful procedure of its kind in the world.The kidney recipient was identified as 62-year-old Rick Slayman of Weymouth. He is recovering well at Mass General and the hospital expects him to be discharged soon. 

Slayman was suffering from end-stage kidney disease at the time of the transplant.Dr. Leo Riella, medical director of kidney transplantation at the hospital, broke down in tears during a press conference on Thursday.

“Deepest gratitude goes to our MGH team for their support, guidance and expertise. I cannot think of a more dedicated team in the world and I’m honored to be a part of it,” Riella said through tears.Nationwide organ shortageAccording to the hospital, the procedure was a “major milestone in the quest to provide more readily available organs to patients.”The United Network for Organ Sharing says more than 100,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for an organ transplant. Seventeen people die each day on average waiting for a transplant, the organization said.”Mass General Brigham researchers and clinicians are constantly pushing the boundaries of science to transform medicine and solve significant health issues facing our patients in their daily lives,” said Anne Klibanski, president and CEO of Mass General Brigham. “Nearly seven decades after the first successful kidney transplant, our clinicians have once again demonstrated our commitment to provide innovative treatments and help ease the burden of disease for our patients and others around the world.”

The pig kidney was provided by eGenesis in Cambridge. It was genetically edited to remove harmful pig genes. Certain human genes were then added to improve its compatibility, the hospital said.Kidney recipient the “real hero”Joren Madsen, director of the MGH Transplant Center, described Slayman as “the real hero.” Slayman has been living with Type 2 diabetes and hypertension for many years, and received a human kidney transplant in 2018 after seven years of dialysis. About five years later, that kidney showed signs of failure.

Surgeons transplant a pig kidney into a living human patient.

Massachusetts General Hospital

With limited options, Slayman was presented with the pros and cons of receiving a pig kidney. “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,” Slayman said.

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Matt Schooley

Matt Schooley is a digital producer at CBS Boston. He has been a member of the WBZ news team for the last decade.


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