Indian Transplant Newsletter Vol. VI Issue NO.: 19 (February 2005)
1954 – 2004: 50 years of transplants
Indian Transplant Newsletter.
Vol. VI Issue NO.: 19 (February 2005)
Print ISSN 0972 - 1568
The year 1954 was a landmark year in the history of transplantation. It was the year of the first successful transplant of a major organ – a kidney. The donor, as we know, was a man called Ronald Herrick and the recipient was his identical twin brother, Richard. Now fifty years down the line, there are many, many more successful organ transplant that have taken place and are continuing to take place.
A number of breakthroughs have allowed the success rate to grow, chief among them the development of immunosuppressive drugs. The refinement of those drugs now allows transplantation between completely unrelated people.
Another breakthrough involved the development of tissue typing. This let doctors better assess whether an organ from an unrelated donor stood a chance of surviving in a patient’s body. Tissue typing is similar to blood typing, but much more complex. In blood typing, there are three main groups – A, B and O. in tissue typing, there are now more than 300 types. Tissue typing and immunosuppressresion with drugs was first used in a human kidney transplantation of other organs – liver, pancreas and heart.
The 1980s saw the discovery and widespread use of the immunosuppressive drug cyclosporine, which was so effective in preventing rejection that it opened up a new era in transplant surgery.
However, the major problem now facing transplant surgery is a critical shortage of available organs. Currently, in the U.S.A. alone, there are more than 85,000 people waiting for an organ that could save their lives. Doctors are trying to remedy the situation by using donated organs from older people as well as organs from non-heart beating donors. The lack of human donors has also prompted continued research into inter – species organ transplantation, for example, genetically – modified pigs.
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- Keywords: 50 years, Transplants