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Doctors in Boston Transplant Pig Kidney on a Human Patient as an Experiment

Doctors in Boston have reportedly transplanted the kidney of a pig into a 62-year old patient, as an experiment to utilize animal organs in humans. 

The Massachusetts General Hospital confirmed that this was the first time a genetically modified kidney was transplanted into a living person aside from experimentation of pig kidneys on brain-dead patients. Two men had also received heart transplants from pigs, but both died within months. 

The patient, Richard “Rick” Slayman of Weymouth, Massachusetts, is allegedly recovering well from the surgery and would be released soon according to his doctors. 

Dr. Tatsuo Kawai, the transplant surgeon, hopes the kidney will work for two years and in case it fails, the patient could resort to dialysis.

“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,” said Rick Slayman, who works as a systems manager for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

The transplant surgery was operated by 15 people and took four hours, and when the kidney turned pink and released urine, a doctor at a news conference said, “It was truly the most beautiful kidney I have ever seen.” 

Pigs have been used for a long time in human medicine, such as pig skin grafts and implantation of pig heart valves. However, the transporting of entire organs has been a complicated procedure, and Slayman’s kidney was provided by eGenesis of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The pig was even genetically modified to remove harmful pig genes, coupled with certain human genes to “improve its compatibility.”

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