Dr. Joseph E. Murray, who performed the world’s first successful kidney transplant died at the age of 93. He had won a Nobel Prize for his pioneering work. Murray shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1990 with Dr. E. Donnall Thomas, who won for his work in bone marrow transplants.
In the early 1950s, there had never been a successful human organ transplant. Murray and his associates at Boston’s Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, now Brigham and Women’s Hospital, developed new surgical techniques, gaining knowledge by successfully transplanting kidneys on dogs. In December 1954, they found the right patients, 23-year-old Richard Herrick, who had end-stage kidney failure, and his identical twin, Ronald Herrick.
Because of their identical genetic background, they did not face the biggest problem with transplant patients, the immune system’s rejection of foreign tissue.
After the operation, Richard had a functioning kidney transplanted from Ronald. Richard lived another eight years.
|Dr. Joseph E. Murray (at center facing camera), is seen performing the first successful organ transplant |
at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston on Dec. 23, 1954.
|Dr. Joseph E. Murray and his wife, Bobby.|