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First-Ever Pig Kidney Transplant in Human Marks Groundbreaking Medical Milestone

In a groundbreaking medical achievement, doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital successfully conducted the world’s first transplant of a genetically modified pig kidney into a living human recipient, marking a significant leap forward in organ transplantation. The pioneering surgery, performed on Saturday, saw the integration of a pig kidney into 62-year-old Rick Slayman, a patient grappling with end-stage kidney disease.

Mr. Slayman, a manager with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, had endured a lengthy battle with kidney failure, undergoing previous transplant procedures and dialysis treatments. His journey led him to become the first recipient of this innovative xenotransplantation approach, which offers hope to thousands of patients facing organ shortages worldwide.

The four-hour surgery, led by Dr. Tatsuo Kawai, director of the Legorreta Center for Clinical Transplant Tolerance, saw immediate success as the pig kidney began functioning seamlessly within Mr. Slayman’s body. Describing the moment as emotional, Dr. Kawai recalled the excitement among the transplant team as the kidney “pinked up” and initiated urine production, signifying its integration.

The historic procedure comes after decades of research and collaboration, with eGenesis Bio pioneering genetic modifications in pigs to enhance compatibility with humans. CRISPR-Cas9 technology enabled precise alterations to the pig’s DNA, reducing the risk of rejection by the human immune system.

While hailed as a monumental achievement, medical experts emphasize the need for further research to assess the long-term viability and safety of pig organ transplants in humans. However, the successful outcome brings hope for addressing the critical shortage of organ donors and offering life-saving treatments to patients worldwide.

Mr. Slayman’s courageous decision to undergo this innovative procedure underscores the potential of xenotransplantation to revolutionize organ transplantation and save countless lives. As medical science continues to push boundaries, the success of this milestone offers renewed optimism for patients awaiting organ transplants and reflects the tireless dedication of medical professionals in advancing healthcare innovation.