WATCH: American surgeons perform world-first successful pig to human kidney transplant

Published Mar 22, 2024


In a groundbreaking medical first, surgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston have successfully transplanted a kidney from a genetically engineered pig into a 62-year-old man, marking the first-ever procedure of its kind.

The historic surgery, conducted last weekend, has yielded promising results, with the recipient's new kidney already producing urine and his overall condition showing improvement.

The patient, a 62-year-old African-American man, may soon be discharged from the hospital, marking a significant step forward in the field of xenotransplantation.

The hospital noted in a press release that if successful on a larger scale, kidneys from genetically modified pigs could potentially address the acute shortage of human organs available for transplantation.

This would offer a lifeline to the hundreds of thousands of Americans currently awaiting kidney transplants.

The hospital also noted that the “development is particularly significant for minority patients, who disproportionately suffer from end-stage kidney disease and face challenges accessing suitable donor organs.”

Dr. Winfred Williams, associate chief of the nephrology division at Mass General, emphasised the potential of pig kidneys to provide a solution to the longstanding disparities in organ transplantation.

“The continued success of this groundbreaking kidney transplant represents a true milestone in the field of transplantation,” Williams said.

“It also represents a potential breakthrough in solving one of the more intractable problems in our field, that being unequal access for ethnic minority patients to the opportunity for kidney transplants due to the extreme donor organ shortage and other system-based barriers.”

The recipient of the pig kidney, Richard Slayman, had faced significant health challenges due to diabetes and hypertension, leading to kidney failure and a prolonged period of dialysis.

With few options available and facing a lengthy wait for a human kidney, Mr. Slayman opted to participate in the experimental procedure, hoping to not only improve his own health but also pave the way for future patients in need of transplants.