Man Who Received Pig Kidney Transplant Has Died, ‘No Indication’ It’s a Result of the Surgery

Rick Slayman, the first human recipient of a genetically modified pig kidney, has died

<p>Michelle Rose/Massachusetts General Hospital</p> Rick Slayman.

Michelle Rose/Massachusetts General Hospital

Rick Slayman.

Rick Slayman, the first human to receive a transplant of a genetically modified pig kidney, has died. He was 62.

“Our family is deeply saddened about the sudden passing of our beloved Rick but take great comfort knowing he inspired so many,” Massachusetts General Hospital, which performed the four-hour long surgery on March 21, said in a statement.

Although no direct cause of death was mentioned, the hospital did note, “We have no indication that it was the result of his recent transplant.”

<p>Michelle Rose/Massachusetts General Hospital</p> Rick Slayman with his doctors.

Michelle Rose/Massachusetts General Hospital

Rick Slayman with his doctors.

Slayman, who had end-stage kidney disease, underwent the experimental procedure in March. He also had diabetes and hypertension, and a previous surgery — where he received a human kidney — had failed.

The surgery was performed under the Food and Drug Administration's compassionate use protocol, which grants someone with life-threatening illness access to experimental treatment when no comparable options exist.

Related: Maryland Man Becomes the First Person to Successfully Undergo Pig Heart Transplant

Leonardo V. Riella, MD, PhD shared in a release at the time that more than 1,400 patients are on a waitlist for a kidney transplant at the hospital.

"Some of these patients will unfortunately die or get too sick to be transplanted due to the long waiting time on dialysis. I am firmly convinced that xenotransplantation represents a promising solution to the organ shortage crisis."

<p>Credit: Massachusetts General Hospital</p> Surgery for first genetically modified pig kidney transplant.

Credit: Massachusetts General Hospital

Surgery for first genetically modified pig kidney transplant.

Xenotransplantation — or the transplant of an organ from one species to another — could mark a solution to an ongoing organ shortage, Massachusetts General Hospital says. According to numbers from the United Network for Organ Sharing, more than 100,000 people in the U.S. are on a transplant waiting list with 90,000 in need of kidneys.

Related: Surgeons Perform Second-Ever Pig Heart Transplant to Save Dying Maryland Man: 'My Only Real Hope Left'

In the beginning of April, Slayman had recovered well enough to return home from the hospital.

“This moment – leaving the hospital today with one of the cleanest bills of health I’ve had in a long time – is one I wished would come for many years,” Slayman shared in a statement. “Now, it’s a reality and one of the happiest moments of my life.”

As the hospital said after his death, “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."

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