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World’s First Organ Donor Dies -56 Years Later

Ronald Lee Herrick was 79 years old when he died Monday in a Maine hospital from complications of heart surgery. He did not die from kidney failure, even though he only had one, and his identical twin brother suffered from renal failure in 1954. That was the year Herrick donated a healthy kidney to his brother in an operation that had never worked before.

The successful surgery kept Herrick’s brother alive for eight years and was the first successful organ transplant, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. Lead surgeon Dr Joseph Murray went on to win the Nobel prize.

The operation proved that transplants were possible and led to thousands of other successful kidney transplants, and later the transplant of other organs.

Doctors around the world had tried a few transplants before the breakthrough operation, without success, said Murray, who went on to perform another 18 transplants between identical twins.

Despite arguments at the time about the ethics of taking an organ from a healthy body, Herrick insisted on donating to save his brother’s life. Link -via Not Exactly Rocket Science

(Image credit: Joel Page/AP)

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Date
January 2nd, 2011

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Stranger to the World

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