The world’s first patient with a transplanted pig kidney was able to leave the hospital almost three weeks after the operation. Rick Slayman is recovering well and will now continue his recovery at home with his family, Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston (local time) announced on X (formerly Twitter).

β€œI have been longing for this moment for many years, to be able to leave the hospital with one of the best health reports I have had in a long time,” said the 62-year-old, according to the doctors. “Now it has become a reality.” This day not only means a new beginning for him, but also for many other people who were waiting for a kidney transplant.

According to the hospital, the man, who suffers from life-threatening kidney disease, had the genetically modified organ implanted on March 16.

Pigs are particularly suitable as donors

The so-called xenotransplantation has been researched for a long time. Pigs are particularly suitable as donors because their metabolism is similar to that of humans. In order to use such organs, the genetic makeup of the donor animals must, among other things, be changed. Otherwise, transmission to humans would result in an immediate rejection reaction.

The 62-year-old also showed signs of rejection on the eighth day after the operation, the New York Times wrote, citing one of the doctors. The immune reaction was curbed with medication. β€œIt was a roller coaster ride in the first week,” said the doctor. However, the man reacted to the treatment like patients who had received organs from human donors.

Most recently, two seriously ill patients at the University Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, had pig hearts implanted as replacement organs in recent years. Both died weeks after the operation.