In a groundbreaking medical achievement, surgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston have conducted the world’s first successful transplantation of a pig kidney into a human recipient.

The recipient, 62-year-old Rick Slayman from Weymouth, was diagnosed with end-stage kidney disease prior to the transplant. Following the procedure, Slayman is reported to be recovering well at Mass General, with expectations of an imminent discharge.

During a press conference, Dr. Leo Riella, the medical director of kidney transplantation at the hospital, expressed profound gratitude towards the hospital’s team for their support and expertise, visibly moved to tears. He commended their dedication and acknowledged the milestone achieved through their efforts.

The significance of this medical breakthrough extends beyond the individual case, addressing a critical need for organ transplantation. With over 100,000 individuals in the U.S. awaiting organ transplants, and an average of seventeen deaths daily among those on the waitlist, the procedure marks a pivotal advancement towards addressing the nationwide organ shortage.

Anne Klibanski, president and CEO of Mass General Brigham, emphasized the institution’s commitment to pioneering medical advancements to alleviate the burden of disease for patients globally. This achievement, nearly seven decades after the first successful kidney transplant, exemplifies their dedication to innovative treatments.

The pig kidney used in the transplantation was provided by eGenesis in Cambridge, genetically modified to eliminate harmful pig genes and enhance compatibility by incorporating specific human genes. This groundbreaking approach holds promise for expanding the pool of available organs for transplantation.

Joren Madsen, director of the MGH Transplant Center, hailed Slayman as the “real hero” in this medical milestone. Slayman, who had been managing Type 2 diabetes and hypertension for years, had previously undergone a human kidney transplant in 2018 after undergoing seven years of dialysis. However, when signs of kidney failure emerged approximately five years later, Slayman faced limited options and was presented with the opportunity to receive a pig kidney.

In his own words, Slayman viewed the procedure not only as a personal opportunity for health improvement but also as a beacon of hope for the thousands of individuals in need of organ transplants for survival.

This historic transplantation signifies a significant leap forward in medical science, offering hope to countless patients awaiting life-saving organ transplants and paving the way for future advancements in organ transplantation techniques.