Transplant History

In the mid 18th century doctors started experimenting with organ transplantation in animals and humans. By 2001, U.S. hospitals transplanted more than 20,000 organs from living and cadaveric donors.
The first successful experimental kidney transplants were performed at the Vienna Medical School in Austria with animals.
The first kidney transplant experiments were performed in humans in France using animal kidneys. A surgeon inserted slices of rabbit kidney into a child suffering from kidney failure. Although "the immediate results were excellent" the child died about 2 weeks later.
The first human-to-human kidney transplant was performed. Unknown to doctors at the time, the donor and recipient blood groups were mismatched and the donor kidney never functioned.
Dec. 23, 1954
Surgeons at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston perform the first truly successful kidney transplant from one twin to another. This was done without any immunosuppressive medication. Because they were identical twins, the organ did not appear foreign to the recipient's body, which did not reject it.
March 1958
Edith Helm, 1996
Edith Helm of Boston becomes the first transplant recipient to give birth, only two years after her twin sister Wanda donated a kidney to save her sister's life.
Better techniques for matching donor and recipient blood and tissue types, as well as improvements in preserving cadaveric - from recently deceased donors -are developed.
Azathioprine, a rejection inhibitor, becomes available and increases the odds of successful organ transplants when used with steroids.
April 1962
The first cadaveric kidney transplant is performed at Brigham Hospital in Boston.
Dr. Thomas Starzl
The human first single lung transplant is performed at the University of Mississippi. The first liver transplant is attempted at the University of Colorado by a hospital team led by Dr. Thomas Starzl.
The first successful human liver transplant is performed by surgeons from the University of Colorado. The recipient lived for a year before dying from a recurrence of liver cancer.
Dec. 3, 1967
Dr. Christiaan Barnard
Dr. Christiaan Barnard performs the first successful transplant of a whole human heart at Groote Schuur Hospital in South Africa. The patient, 53-year-old dentist Louis Washkansky, survives 18 days.
First U.S. heart transplant, Stanford University. First pancreas transplant, University of Minnesota. The Uniform Anatomical Gift Act is passed by Congress, making it legal to donate a deceased individual's organs and tissue for transplantation.
April 4, 1969
Haskell Karp, who is operated on by Dr. Denton Cooley of the Texas Heart Institute, becomes the first recipient of a total artificial heart in a human. Karp, who had advanced terminal heart disease, lives three days before receiving a human heart transplant and dies a day later when infection and tissue rejection set in.
Nov. 25, 1974
Barnard, in his 11th heart transplant operation, performs the first "piggyback" transplant, attaching a donor heart to the patient's heart.
Barnard attempts grafting a baboon heart in one patient, who dies within hours, and a chimpanzee heart in a second, who dies after three days.
1980s and 1990s
New techniques, new medications and new patient information help make kidney transplants a safer, more effective and more routine procedure.
March 1981
The first successful heart-lung transplant is performed at Stanford Medical Center on a 45-year-old woman.
1982 to '85
Dr. DeVries and Barney Clark
Dr. William DeVries carries out a series of five implants of the Jarvik total artificial heart. The first patient, Barney Clark, survives for 112 days. Only four others received the Jarvik as a permanent replacement heart; one, William Schroeder, lived 620 days, dying in August 1986 at age 54. Other patients received the Jarvik as a temporary device while awaiting heart transplants.
The Toronto Lung Transplant Group, under the direction of Dr. Joel D. Cooper, performs the first successful human single lung transplant.
After a year of congressional hearings, the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984 is passed. It provided funding for a nationwide organ-sharing system called the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). The Act also prohibits the sale of organs to restrict the possibility of commercial abuse.
Feb. 14, 1984
Stormie Jones, 1990
Her liver and heart damaged by a condition giving her abnormally high blood cholesterol, Stormie Jones, only 6 years old, becomes the first person to receive a heart-liver transplant. She dies on Nov. 11, 1990.
Oct. 26, 1984
A 2-week-old infant known as "Baby Fae" receives a transplant of a baboon heart at Loma Linda University Medical Center in California. She dies Nov. 15, 1984.
The United Network for Organ sharing wins a contract from the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a private, nonprofit network of hospitals in North America that provides organs and tissues to nearly 15,000 people annually.
The Toronto Lung Transplant Group performs the first successful human double lung transplant.
Murray, who performed the first successful kidney transplant, and Dr. E. Donnall Thomas, who pioneered bone marrow transplants as a cure for leukemia, receive the Nobel Prize in Medicine.
First successful small intestine transplant.
June 28, 1992
Surgeons complete an 11-hour transplant operation of a baboon liver into a human. The liver eventually grows three times its original size and is equal in size to an adult human liver, but the patient dies after 71 days as doctors try to wean him from ventilator.
July 11, 1997
Doctors announce the first embryonic cell tissue transplant in United States to slow spinal cord damage in paralyzed a man.
Feb. 19, 1999
Brazilian doctors say they have performed the world's first successful liver-kidney transplant from a live donor. Surgeons in Sao Paolo say they gave a 53-year-old man a kidney and part of the liver of his 26-year-old son.
April 6, 2000
Doctors in Saudi Arabia perform the first human uterus transplant, which produced two menstrual periods before it failed and had to be removed. The transplant used the womb of a 46-year-old post-menopausal woman who had to have a hysterectomy in a 26-year-old Saudi woman who had lost her uterus because of excessive bleeding after childbirth.
In a medical trial, six artificial AbioCor hearts are transplanted into patients who are expected to live only 30 days. The device, which is completely contained within the body and powered externally, meets its makers' limited goal of helping patients live 60 days, with an improved quality of life.