Update: Pig Kidney Recipient Dies | God's World News

UPDATE: Pig Kidney Recipient Dies

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    Rick Slayman died nearly two months after receiving the first ever modified pig kidney transplant. (Massachusetts General Hospital/Handout via Reuters)
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    A nurse prepares the pig kidney for transplantation on March 16. (Massachusetts General Hospital via AP)
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In March, Richard “Rick” Slayman received the world’s first genetically modified pig kidney transplant. Doctors hoped the new organ would last two years. Sadly, after nearly two months, the patient passed away.

Slayman’s operation was a medical first. But it’s the latest in a long line of xenotransplantation (transplanting animal tissue into humans) attempts. Human immune systems don’t naturally accept animal organs. Scientists use gene editing to make animal organs more humanlike. In this way, they hope to encourage human bodies to accept foreign tissue. In 2022 and 2023, surgeons attempted transplants with pig hearts. In both cases, as with Slayman, the patients lived just a few more months.

If scientists can get these transplants to work well, the method could save many lives. Still, not everyone is sure that xenotransplantation is a good idea. For example, God made humans in His own image and different from animals. Should people put animal parts into human bodies? Others are concerned about safety risks or animal cruelty.

Slayman received a traditional human kidney transplant in 2018. But when that organ began to fail, he agreed to try the pig kidney. Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital performed the surgery.

Slayman’s family thanked his doctors in a statement. “Their enormous efforts leading the xenotransplant gave our family seven more weeks with Rick,” family members wrote. “And our memories made during that time will remain in our minds and hearts.”

The team at Massachusetts General Hospital also released a statement offering condolences to the family. Doctors say they do not have any indication that Slayman’s death resulted from the transplant.

Slayman thought his experimental procedure might give hope to other people in need of transplants. Despite his death, his friends and family believe he did just that.

And that’s a hope much needed. In the United States, over 100,000 people are on the waiting list for transplants. Most of them need kidneys. Every year, thousands die before reaching the front of the line. Could pig kidneys change that?

In April, a woman from New Jersey received the second-ever modified pig kidney transplant. After the surgery, doctors said that she was recovering well. They watch to see whether her body will accept the organ long-term.

Pray that doctors will find new ways to help those waiting for transplants.

O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. — Psalm 30:2