Grandma who got first pig kidney transplant and mechanical heart has died

Wednesday, July 10, 2024 - A grandmother who was the first to receive a combined pig kidney and mechanical heart pump transplant has died three months after the innovative pair of surgeries.

Lisa Pisano successfully had both surgeries in April and appeared to be recovering, but her health took a downward turn and she died on Sunday, July 7, her surgeon announced.

Doctors had to remove the pig kidney 47 days after the procedures as her heart medications damaged the organ.

Pisano was put back on dialysis and continued to use the heart pump, but eventually went into hospice care, NYU Langone transplant surgeon Dr Robert Montgomery stated on Tuesday, July 9.

“Lisa helped bring us closer to realizing a future where someone does not have to die for another person to live,” said Montgomery. “She will forever be remembered for her courage and good nature.”

Pisano, of New Jersey, had end-stage kidney disease and heart failure when she received the gene-edited pig kidney and heart pump at a hospital in New York.

“All I want is the opportunity to have a better life,” she said at the time.

“My doctors thought there may be a chance I could be approved to receive a gene-edited pig kidney, so I discussed it with my family and my husband. He has been by my side throughout this ordeal and wants me to be better.”

Pisano was not a good candidate for a kidney and heart transplant because there is a shortage of human organ donations and she had other chronic health conditions.

In April, Pisano, 54, said she knew the pig kidney may not work but that she “just took a chance”.

“Worst case scenario, if it didn’t work for me, it might have worked for someone else,” she said then.

Pisano is the second person ever to get a kidney from a gene-edited pig, after Richard Slayman, who received the organ at Massachusetts General Hospital in March.

Slayman died in early May, almost two months after his surgery, of a preexisting heart disease and not due to the transplant, according to his doctor.

Both surgeries were aimed at finding a viable alternative to donated human organs amid the great shortage. 

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