Dr Joseph E Murray, the man who conducted the world's first successful kidney transplant and won a Nobel Prize, has died at age 93. Since the first kidney transplants on identical twins, lakhs of transplants on a variety of organs have been performed globally.
Murray shared the Nobel for Medicine in 1990 with Dr E Donnall Thomas, who won it for bone marrow transplants. In the early 1950s, there had been no successful human organ transplant. Murray developed new surgical techniques by successfully transplanting kidneys in dogs. In December 1954, he found the right human patients, Richard Herrick, who had end-stage kidney failure, and his identical twin, Ronald Herrick.
Due to their identical gene pool, they had faced no rejection of foreign tissue. But it was the immune-suppressant drugs that led to real progress in transplants. In 1962, Murray and his team successfully conducted the first organ transplant from an unrelated donor. The 23-year-old patient, Mel Doucette, received a kidney from a man who had died.