Organ Transplant Pioneer Joseph Murray Dies at 93
Dr. Joseph Murray who performed the first successful organ transplant passed away on November 26, 2012. He was 93. Born on April 1, 1919 in Milford, Massachusetts, Murray traced his interest in the emerging science of transplants to the three years he spent on the surgical ward of an army hospital in Pennsylvania during World War II. There surgeons would often treat severely burned soldiers with skin grafts from cadavers as a temporary measure.
The prospect of transplanting organs from one living patient to another was controversial from the beginning, with critics viewing it as a violation of nature that endangered both the donor and the recipient. But the public started coming around to the procedure after Murray's historic operation in 1954 at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, when he transplanted a kidney from Ronald Herrick to his identical twin brother Richard, extending his life by eight years.
In the 1960s Murray helped to develop the drug Imuran, which suppressed the immune system to allow patients to accept transplants from unrelated donors. He won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1990, sharing the honor with E. Donnall Thomas, who pioneered bone marrow transplants. Their discoveries have been used to cure or provide a decent life for thousands of severely ill patients.
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