In March, at the age of 62, Richard Slayman underwent transplant surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital with a kidney from a pig. Surgeons said they believed the pig kidney would last at least two years.  But on Saturday, his family and the hospital that performed the surgery announced that Slayman had died. 

While the Massachusetts transplant team said there was no indication that Slayman's receipt of the genetically modified kidney caused his death, they expressed their deep sorrow and condolences to his family. 

Slayman had received a human kidney transplant at the same hospital in 2018 after seven years on dialysis, but the organ failed after five years and dialysis treatments were resumed.  When dialysis complications arose, requiring frequent procedures, his doctors recommended a pig kidney transplant.

Slayman's family thanked his doctors in a statement.  "Their tremendous efforts leading up to the xenotransplant gave our family seven more weeks with Rick, and the memories made during that time will remain in our minds and hearts."

"Rick achieved that goal and his hope and optimism will last forever," the family said, adding that Slayman was operated on to provide hope for the survival of thousands of people in need of transplants. 

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FIRST LIVING PATIENT

The transplantation of animal cells, tissues or organs into humans awaiting transplant donation is called "xenotransplantation" therapy. 

Previously, pig kidneys were temporarily transplanted into brain-dead recipients as an experiment. Slayman was the first living person to undergo this procedure. 

David Bennett, 57, who was transplanted with a pig heart for the first time on January 7, 2022 at a hospital in Maryland, USA, died two months after the operation.

On September 20, 2023, the second pig-to-human heart transplant surgery was performed at the same hospital, and 58-year-old Lawrence Faucette died 6 weeks after the operation.