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Man who got first pig kidney transplant dies after nearly two months

By AYIE LICSI Published May 12, 2024 3:33 pm

Richard "Rick" Slayman, the man who received the first pig kidney transplant in the world, has died at the age of 62.

The Massachusetts man got the transplant on March 21 and was discharged from the hospital two weeks later. He died nearly two months after the procedure.

His passing was announced by his family and the Massachusetts General Hospital on Saturday, which emphasized that there was no indication that he died because of the transplant.

"The Mass General transplant team is deeply saddened at the sudden passing of Mr. Rick Slayman. We have no indication that it was the result of his recent transplant," the hospital said in a statement.

"Mr. Slayman will forever be seen as a beacon of hope to countless transplant patients worldwide and we are deeply grateful for his trust and willingness to advance the field of xenotransplantation," it added.

Slayman had been living with Type 2 diabetes and hypertension for several years, according to the hospital. He then received a human kidney transplant from a deceased donor in December 2018 but it began to fail five years later. His doctors later suggested a pig kidney transplant after dialysis complications.

Slayman's family also released a statement after his passing, remembering how he became a beacon of hope to others worldwide.

"Millions of people have come to know Rick's story. We felt—and still feel—comforted by the optimism he provided patients desperately waiting for a transplant. To us, Rick was a kind-hearted man with a quick-witted sense of humor who was fiercely dedicated to his family, friends, and co-workers," they said.

"After his transplant, Rick said that one of the reasons he underwent this procedure was to provide hope for the thousands of people who need a transplant to survive. Rick accomplished that goal and his hope and optimism will endure forever. His legacy will be one that inspires patients, researchers, and health care professionals everywhere."