World's first pig kidney transplant recipient discharged from hospital

World's first pig kidney transplant recipient discharged from hospital

The first man to receive a pig kidney transplant has been discharged from the hospital in the United States.

"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," said Rick Slayman, a 62-year-old man from the US state of Massachusetts who had been living with end-stage kidney disease.

"Now, it’s a reality and one of the happiest moments of my life," he added.

Slayman was the world's first recipient of a genetically edited pig kidney, with the four-hour-long surgery taking place on March 16.

He had previously received a kidney transplant from a human donor but it failed forcing him to resume dialysis.

But Slayman experienced complications that required visits to the hospital every two weeks "for de-clotting and surgical revisions" which impacted his quality of life, Massachusetts General Hospital said in a statement last month.

The procedure was performed under a special US regulator authorisation granted to patients with serious illnesses to access an experimental treatment.

'Excited to resume spending time with my family'

Rick Slayman
Rick Slayman - Massachusetts General Hospital/Partners Healthcare

"I’m excited to resume spending time with my family, friends, and loved ones free from the burden of dialysis that has affected my quality of life for many years," Slayman said in a statement posted by the hospital as he was discharged this week.

"Lastly, I want to thank anyone who has seen my story and sent well wishes, especially patients waiting for a kidney transplant. Today marks a new beginning not just for me, but for them, as well.

"My recovery is progressing smoothly and I ask for privacy at this time," he said.

The pig kidney had been genetically edited using CRISPR-Cas9 technology to "remove harmful pig genes and add certain human genes to improve its compatibility with humans," the hospital said.

Kidneys are the most frequently transplanted organ but demand for organs is higher than the number that are available for transplant.

Xenotransplantation, which is the process of transplanting animal organs into humans, has been hailed as a possible solution.

According to the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines and Healthcare, around 39,000 patients received a transplant and 48,000 new patients were registered on a waiting list for organ transplants in Council of Europe states in 2022.