Patient who underwent pig-to-human kidney transplant dies weeks after groundbreaking procedure

Richard Slayman died weeks after undergoing the world’s first pig-to-human kidney transplant. Picture: Supplied

Richard Slayman died weeks after undergoing the world’s first pig-to-human kidney transplant. Picture: Supplied

Published May 13, 2024


A 62-year-old man who underwent the world's first pig-to-human kidney transplant has died.

According to the Massachusetts General Hospital, where Richard Slayman underwent the groundbreaking surgery, there was no indication that his death was caused by the procedure.

In a statement released following Slayman's death, his family said they were saddened by his sudden passing.

"We take great comfort in knowing he inspired so many. Millions of people worldwide have come to know Rick's story. We felt and still feel comforted by the optimism he provided patients desperately waiting for a transplant," the Slayman family said.

"To us, Rick was a kind-hearted man with a quick-witted sense of humour who was fiercely dedicated to his family, friends, and co-workers.

"We are extremely grateful to his care team across Massachusetts General Hospital and Mass General Brigham, especially Dr Williams, Dr Kawai, and Dr Riella, who truly did everything they could to help give Rick a second chance. Their enormous efforts leading the xenotransplant gave our family seven more weeks with Rick, and our memories made during that time will remain in our minds and hearts," the family added.

IOL previously reported that Slayman suffered from end-stage kidney disease.

Speaking after his transplant, Slayman said one of the reasons he underwent this procedure was to provide hope for the thousands of people who need a transplant to survive.

His family said Slayman, affectionately known as "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. Our family asks for respectful privacy as we remember the beautiful soul of our beloved Rick," the family said.

The hospital's transplant team expressed its sadness at Slayman's passing.

Richard Slayman with the medical team (left to right) Dr Nahel Elias, Interim Chief, Division of Transplant Surgery, Dr Tatsuo Kawai, Director, Legoretta Center for Clinical Transplant Tolerance, and Dr Leo Riella, Medical Director of Kidney Transplantation. Picture: Supplied

"We have no indication that it was the result of his recent transplant. 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.

“We offer our heartfelt condolences to Mr Slayman’s family and loved ones as they remember an extraordinary person whose generosity and kindness touched all who knew him," the team said.

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