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posted by janrinok on Monday May 13, @09:08AM   Printer-friendly

First Living Patient to Receive Genetically Modified Pig Kidney Dead at 62

First living patient to receive genetically modified pig kidney dead at 62, weeks after historic transplant:

The first living patient to receive a kidney from a genetically modified pig has died, two months after the groundbreaking transplant, his family and doctors announced Saturday.

Richard "Rick" Slayman, 62, was sent home in March, two weeks after undergoing the transplant at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

"Their enormous efforts leading the xenotransplant gave our family seven more weeks with Rick, and our memories made during that time will remain in our minds and hearts," his family said in a statement of the practice of healing human patients with animal cells, tissues or organs.

Slayman, of Boston suburb Weymouth, said he underwent the daring procedure after suffering ongoing dialysis complications, which saw him hospitalized every two weeks.

"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," he said in a statement at the time.

"Rick accomplished that goal, and his hope and optimism will endure forever," his family said Saturday.

The transplant team at Mass General said it had "no indication that it was the result of his recent transplant."

[...] Before Slayman, pig kidneys had only been tested on brain-dead donors, while two men who received pig hearts both died within months.

The efforts often fail because the human immune system would destroy the foreign animal tissue, and recent procedures like Slayman's use organs from pigs that have been altered to be more human-like.

See: First Time Doctors Transplant Gene-edited Pig Kidney Into Living Human

First Person to Receive a Genetically Modified Pig Kidney Transplant Dies Nearly 2 Months Later

First person to receive a genetically modified pig kidney transplant dies nearly 2 months later - SRN News:

[...] Richard "Rick" Slayman had the transplant at Massachusetts General Hospital in March at the age of 62. Surgeons said they believed the pig kidney would last for at least two years.

The transplant team at Massachusetts General Hospital said in a statement it was deeply saddened by Slayman's passing and offered condolences to his family. They said they didn't have any indication that he died as a result of the transplant.

Slayman had a kidney transplant at the hospital in 2018, but he had to go back on dialysis last year when it showed signs of failure. When dialysis complications arose requiring frequent procedures, his doctors suggested a pig kidney transplant.

In a statement, Slayman's family thanked his doctors.

[...] More than 100,000 people are on the national waiting list for a transplant, most of them kidney patients, and thousands die every year before their turn comes.


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First Time Doctors Transplant Gene-edited Pig Kidney Into Living Human 17 comments

Doctors transplant gene-edited pig kidney into living human for 1st time - National:

Doctors in Boston have transplanted a pig kidney into a 62-year-old patient, the latest experiment in the quest to use animal organs in humans.

Massachusetts General Hospital said Thursday that it's the first time a genetically modified pig kidney has been transplanted into a living person. Previously, pig kidneys have been temporarily transplanted into brain-dead donors. Also, two men received heart transplants from pigs, although both died within months.

The patient, Richard "Rick" Slayman of Weymouth, Massachusetts, is recovering well from the surgery last Saturday and is expected to be discharged soon, doctors said Thursday.

Dr. Tatsuo Kawai, the transplant surgeon, said the team believes the pig kidney will work for at least two years. If it fails, Slayman could go back on dialysis, said kidney specialist Dr. Winfred Williams. He noted that unlike the pig heart recipients who were very sick, Slayman is "actually quite robust."

[...] Dr. Parsia Vagefi, chief of surgical transplantation at UT Southwestern Medical Center, called the announcement "a big step forward." But echoing the Boston doctors, he said studies involving more patients at different medical centers would be needed for it to become more commonly available.

The experiment marks the latest development in xenotransplantation, the term for efforts to try to heal human patients with cells, tissues, or organs from animals. For decades, it didn't work — the human immune system immediately destroyed foreign animal tissue. More recent attempts have involved pigs that have been modified so their organs are more humanlike — increasing hope that they might one day help fill a shortage of donated organs.

[...] Pigs have long been used in human medicine, including pig skin grafts and implantation of pig heart valves. But transplanting entire organs is much more complex than using highly processed tissue. The kidney implanted in Slayman was provided by eGenesis of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The pig was genetically edited to remove harmful pig genes and add certain human genes to improve its compatibility with humans.

[...] The Food and Drug Administration gave special permission for Slayman's transplant under "compassionate use" rules.


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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by looorg on Monday May 13, @10:23AM (6 children)

    by looorg (578) on Monday May 13, @10:23AM (#1356790)

    Slayman had a kidney transplant at the hospital in 2018, but he had to go back on dialysis last year when it showed signs of failure. When dialysis complications arose requiring frequent procedures, his doctors suggested a pig kidney transplant.

    From what I understand they rarely last forever. That said it is normally more then a few years. It will be interesting in further study and potential autopsy to find out why he died or what failed. If the pig kidney didn't fail then what did he die from? Was it just not working as well as it should have or was there just other complications.

    Dialysis complications is also somewhat vague, most people on dialysis have complications from time to time of some kind, but then they shouldn't be every other week for hospitalization. So clearly somewhat more then normal. But Grafs do have to be cleaned and adjusted and eventually also replaced (it's basically a tube inserted in the space between your elbow and shoulder on your non-dominant arm that they stick two needles into three times per week, eventually it will wear out). There are surgical complications, some more common then others. As with any surgery.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by shrewdsheep on Monday May 13, @10:31AM (3 children)

      by shrewdsheep (5215) on Monday May 13, @10:31AM (#1356791)

      That said it is normally more then a few years.

      Off the top of my head, human kidneys have a median survival of roughly 10 yrs (maybe a bit more). The important thing is the failure mode. If you detect problems in time, you get back on dialysis and are scheduled for re-transplant. If pig-kidneys would have to be transplanted more frequently it would not be a problem per say if only they would fail gradually. Of course transplantation is a big surgery leaving behind strain. Then there would be the transplantation capacity of hospitals. Still, this seems to be a way forward.

      • (Score: 5, Interesting) by looorg on Monday May 13, @11:56AM (1 child)

        by looorg (578) on Monday May 13, @11:56AM (#1356802)

        Xenotransplant does in some regard seems to be the way to go. It shouldn't be needed, if people just gave up their viable organs upon death when they don't need them anymore. But since they don't we have to go the xeno or artificial route. One small step for pigs, one giant leap for mankind or something such. If they could just combine eating pigs with organ pigs we could have an abundance of organs, but that is not a combination we are at or probably ever will go to.

        Still it's weird to have a transplant list with 100k (or millions if you just go world wide) people on it just waiting to live, or in a lot of cases die, just due to pulling the short straw in the genetic lottery. A lot of them are probably not there due to poor life choices. Then to have viable organs just being put into the incinerator or the earth.

      • (Score: 2) by pe1rxq on Monday May 13, @07:07PM

        by pe1rxq (844) on Monday May 13, @07:07PM (#1356831) Homepage

        The strain of surgery is indeed a problem. But if organs become more abundant we might get to the point where surgery can be done earlier when the patient can handle it better instead of letting them get in a bad shape first.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by HiThere on Monday May 13, @11:59AM

      by HiThere (866) Subscriber Badge on Monday May 13, @11:59AM (#1356804) Journal

      But you've got to remember that there MUST have been a severe problem to start with, or the experimental operation would never have been approved. Yeah, the summary is extremely vague about just WHAT happened. They probably don't know yet. But this kind of reaction was probably expected. I.e., he was probably at death's door before the operation.

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    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Monday May 13, @12:23PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday May 13, @12:23PM (#1356809)

      Typically, experimental procedures like this are much more easily approved for people who are basically "dead already" and even if the procedure is 100% successful and capable of supporting a high quality of life for 5+ years, the subject will have pre-existing conditions that are going to take them down in short order.

      It's a step on the road. Life is complicated, death is simple. Cause of death: 100% birth. Beyond that, it gets messy.

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