In The News

Organ transplant pioneer Joseph Murray passes away

Organ transplant pioneer Joseph Murray passes away

THE death has taken place in the United States of Dr. Joseph Murray, who in 1954 made medical history by performing the first successful human organ transplant. He was 93.

Back in the early 1950s, Dr. Murray was a professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and leading a team working to overcome the massive problems surrounding organ transplantation.

Indeed, many in the medical profession viewed their work with extreme scepticism. One of the major problems they faced was the rejection by the body of foreign tissue. Dr. Murray had faced such problems while treating soldiers who had suffered burns in World War II.

Dr. Murray began to examine how the rejection problem could be reduced if tissue from a patient’s twin was used.

In late 1954, 23-year-old Richard Herrick lay dying of kidney disease only miles from the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston where Dr. Murray and his colleagues were based.

Doctors treating Mr. Herrick, who was a twin, contacted the research team asking for help.

It was decided to take the major step of transplanting a kidney from Ronald Herrick to his twin. The operation was carried out on December 23 and was a success. Mr. Herrick gained a new lease of life and was to survive for another eight years.

By 1962, advances had been made in developing drugs which could help suppress the immune response and Dr. Murray was able to perform the first successful organ transplant from an unrelated donor.

He had proved the sceptics wrong and his work ushered in a new era in medicine which today sees thousands of lives being saved each year across the world, thanks to organ transplants.

Recalling the criticism he had originally faced, Dr. Murray said: “If you’re going to worry about what people say, your’re never going to make any progress.”

His pioneering work was recognised in 1990 when he received the Nobel Prize.

Dr. Murray passed away in the same hospital where had made medical history. Now known as the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, he had been admitted to the facility after suffering a stroke.

View previous In the News items: Tributes are paid to TV star Larry Hagman, Australian author Bryce Courtenay passes away, Westminster Abbey honour announced for writer C S Lewis, Influential church musician Sir Philip Ledger passes away, Tributes are paid to the painter and sculptor William Turnbull, Retailer who helped Elvis with fashion advice passes away, Tributes are paid to photographer Alf Kumalo, Widow of poet TS Eliot passes away, Former governor of the Falkland Islands Sir Rex Hunt passes away, Former Coronation Street star Bill Tarmey passes away, Headstone is erected 94 years after burial of Portadown soldier, Tributes are paid to actor Clive Dunn, Funeral of Comber soldier Channing Day to take place, Funeral of murdered prison officer David Black takes place, Former racing driver John Fitch passes away, Tributes are paid to songwriter Bill Dees, Tributes are paid to musician Jo Dunne, Composer Hans Werner Henze passes away, Battle of Britain pilot William Walker passes away, Veteran US politician George McGovern passes away, Genius inventor Stanford Ovshinsky passes away, Former footballer Helmut Haller passes away, Tributes are paid to veteran MP Sir Stuart Bell, Scientist behind cloning breakthrough passes away, Tributes are paid to former cricketer Kevin Curran, Former PoW Eric Lomax passes away, Atom bomb physicist Robert Christy passes away, Great session guitarist Big Jim Sullivan passes away, Tributes are paid to historian Eric Hobsbawm, Motown producer Frank Wilson passes away, Veteran actor Herbert Lom passes away, Singer Andy Williams passes away, Former football manager John Bond passes away, Tributes are paid to Cookstown funeral director, Tributes are paid to top wine merchant, Former London gangster Charlie Richardson passes away, American poet Louis Simpson passes away, Funeral takes place of tragic father and sons, Former footballer Jimmy Andrews passes away, Man behind advances in Formula 1 racing safety passes away, Discovered remains may be those of Richard III, Film producer Jake Eberts passes away, Inventor of modern laptop computer Bill Moggridge passes away, Wildlife expert Terry Nutkins passes away, Singer songwriter Joe South passes away, Funeral of motorcycle road racer takes place, Oscar nominated actor Michael Clarke Duncan passes away, Comedian and entertainer Max Bygraves passes away, Former junior minister Sir Rhodes Boyson passes away, Former Royal Navy frogman Sydney Knowles passes away or First man on the moon Neil Armstrong passes away


If you have a relative or a friend who has passed away and feel they should be mentioned in our In the News section, then please email us.