Second Patient to Receive a Genetically Modified Pig Kidney Has Died

A 54-year-old New Jersey woman who was the second person to receive a kidney transplanted from a genetically modified pig, and who lived with the organ for 47 days, died on Sunday, surgeons at NYU Langone Health announced on Tuesday.

The patient, Lisa Pisano, was critically ill, suffering from both kidney failure and heart failure. She received the pig kidney on April 12, just eight days after implantation of a mechanical heart pump.

Surgeons were forced to remove the kidney on May 29 after it was damaged by inadequate blood flow related to the heart pump. After the explantation, Ms. Pisano resumed kidney dialysis but eventually was transitioned to hospice care.

Ms. Pisano made medical history as the first person with a heart pump who is known to have also received an organ transplant. Patients with kidney failure are usually ineligible to receive a heart pump because of the high risk of dying.

Dr. Robert Montgomery, the director of the NYU Langone Transplant Institute, said Ms. Pisano had contributed greatly to the budding field of xenotransplantation, the transplantation of organs from one species to another.

“Lisa’s contributions to medicine, surgery and xenotransplantation cannot be overstated,” Dr. Montgomery said. “Her bravery gave hope to thousands of people living with end-stage kidney or heart failure who could soon benefit from an alternative supply of organs.”

The first patient to receive a kidney from a genetically engineered pig was Richard Slayman, 62, who had the procedure in March at Mass General Brigham in Boston. Though he was well enough to be discharged two weeks after the surgery, he, like Ms. Pisano, suffered from complex medical problems and died within two months.

Although the field of xenotransplantation has made great strides in recent years, the procedures are still experimental. Only patients who are so sick that they are not eligible to receive a human organ, and are at risk of dying without treatment, have been cleared to receive animal organs.

The two transplants of kidneys from genetically modified pigs this year were approved under the Food and Drug Administration’s compassionate use, or expanded access, program for patients with life-threatening conditions.



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