US surgeons have transplanted a pig kidney into a patient

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NEW YORK — Doctors in Boston announced Thursday they have transplanted a genetically modified pig kidney into a 62-year-old patient.

Massachusetts General Hospital said it’s the first time a pig kidney has been transplanted into a living person. Previously, pig kidneys have been temporarily transplanted into brain-dead donors. Also, two men received heart transplants from pigs, although both died within months.

The transplant was done earlier this month. The patient, Mr. Richard ‘Rick’ Slayman of Weymouth, Massachusetts, is recovering well and is expected to be discharged soon, doctors said Thursday.

The announcement marks the latest development in xenotransplantation, the term for efforts to try to heal human patients with cells, tissues, or organs from animals. For decades, it didn’t work — the human immune system immediately destroyed foreign animal tissue. More recent attempts have involved pigs that have been modified so their organs are more humanlike.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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