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Pig Kidney Transplanted into a Human

On March 21, 2024, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) performed the first ever successful transplant of a genetically-edited pig kidney. They transplanted it into a 62 year old man who was living with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD). The surgery was four hours long. This surgery is a historic milestone in xenotransplantation, which is the transplantation of organs or tissues from one organism to another. This could solve problems relating to organ shortage and it will also make organs more available to patients in the future.

According to the Boston Herald, Dr. Anne Klibansku, the President and CEO of MGH, said, “Mass General Brigham researchers and clinicians are constantly pushing the boundaries of science to transform medicine and solve significant health issues facing our patients in their daily lives. Our clinicians have once again demonstrated our commitment to provide innovative treatments and help ease the burden of disease for our patients and others around the world.”

The pig kidney was edited in order to remove the harmful pig genes and to add human genes. It had 69 genomics edits and was from eGenesis of Cambridge Massachusetts. It was genetically-edited using CRISPR-Cas9. According to MGH, Mike Curtis, the Chief Executive Officer of eGenesis said, “We are grateful for the courageous contribution of the patient and to the advancement of transplantation science. This represents a new frontier in medicine and demonstrates the potential of genome engineering to change the lives of millions of patients globally suffering from kidney failure.” 

The patient, Richard Slayman of Weymouth Massachusetts, was discharged on April 3, 2024. According to MGH, Slayman said, “I have been a Mass General Transplant Center patient for 11 years and have the highest level of trust in the doctors, nurses, and clinical staff who have cared for me. When my transplanted kidney began failing in 2023, I again trusted my care team at MGH to meet my goals of not just improving my quality of life but extending it.” Slayman received a kidney transplant back in December 2018 and the kidney started failing five years later. 

The surgery was able to be performed because of the single Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Expanded Access Protocol (EAP). This protocol is given to one patient with a serious illness which is not able to be treated.

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