April 30, 2024 at 12:44 pm

Patient Who Received Gene-Hacked Pig Organ Seems To Be Doing Well

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Twitter/@KidneyKolumns

Doctors and researchers have been working for awhile now on a way to circumvent the traditional organ transplant list.

Now, gene-hacked pig organs are taking center stage.

A 62-year-old patient at Massachusetts General Hospital recently went home with a transplanted kidney that was made from hacked pig genes.

Richard Slayman, the patient, has struggled with kidney disease for over a decade, and his previously transplanted human kidney had started to fail.

His new genetically modified kidney was created by biotech company eGenesis and is producing urine and removing waste, which are two key functions of a healthy kidney.

Organs like these have the potential to both reduce reliance on human donor kidneys, which can be few and far between, and on expensive dialysis machines.

Slayman made an official statement about his transplant.

“This moment – leaving the hospital today with one of the cleanest bills of health I’ve had in a long time – is one I wished would come for many years. Now it’s a reality.”

David Klassen, chief medical officer for the United Network for Organ Sharing, says this is a major milestone for the field of xenotransplantation – harvesting donor organs, tissues, and cells from one species for transplantation in another.

“Through much work remains to be done, I think the potential of this to benefit a large number of patients will be realized, and that was a question mark hovering over the field.”

That said, there is a chance his immune system will reject the organ, just like with human organ transplants.

So far, any signs Slayman had have been easily addressed.

If the technique is scaled up it could help the 100,000 people currently waiting for kidney transplants. Around 12 of those people pass every day without ever receiving one.

Slayman will continue to be monitored weekly, but his team at Mass Gen is optimistic.

“When we first came in, he had a lot of apprehension and anxiety about what would happen. But when we rounded on him at 7am this morning, you could see a big smile on his face and he was making plans.”

I don’t even know this man but this news makes me so happy.

I wish everyone on a transplant list could be well enough to start making plans for the future.

Thought that was fascinating? Here’s another story you might like: Why You’ll Never See A Great White Shark In An Aquarium