First Successful Transplant of a Pig Kidney Into a Living Human Patient Takes Place at Mass General

March 22, 2024
The patient, who previously received a human kidney transplant that had begun showing signs of failure, is expected to be discharged soon

On March 21, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) announced the world’s “first successful transplant of a genetically-edited pig (porcine) kidney into a 62-year-old man living with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD).”

The pig kidney had 69 genomic edits in order to successfully transplant into a living human patient. It was provided by eGenesis of Cambridge, Mass., and was edited using “CRISPR-Cas9 technology to remove harmful pig genes and add certain human genes to improve its compatibility with humans. Additionally, scientists inactivated porcine endogenous retroviruses in the pig donor to eliminate any risk of infection in humans.”

The success of this procedure in a living recipient is a “historic milestone in the emerging field of xenotransplantation – the transplantation of organs or tissues from one species to another – as a potential solution to the worldwide organ shortage. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), more than 100,000 people in the U.S. await an organ for transplant and 17 people die each day waiting for an organ. A kidney is the most common organ needed for transplant, and end-stage kidney disease rates are estimated to increase 29-68 percent in the U.S. by 2030.”

The patient himself, a man named Richard Slayman, had been living with Type 2 diabetes and hypertension for many years, previously received a kidney transplant from a human deceased donor in December 2018, performed at MGH by Kawai, after being on dialysis seven years prior. The transplanted kidney showed signs of failure approximately five years later and Mr. Slayman resumed dialysis in May 2023. Since resuming dialysis, he encountered recurrent dialysis vascular access complications requiring visits to the hospital every two weeks for de-clotting and surgical revisions, significantly impacting his quality of life and a common problem among dialysis patients.”

The procedure itself was performed under a single FDA Expanded Access Protocol (EAP).

Mass General’s website has the news release.