Transplantation

Transplantation: timeline of key events

Carrel was a surgeon and biologist. Inspired by lessons he took from from an embroideress, he developed new techniques for suturing blood vessels that minimised damage to the vascular wall. He was awarded the 1912 Nobel Prize for Medicine in recognition of 'his work on vascular structure and the transplantation of blood vessels and organs'. During World War I he helped develop a new method for treating wounds based on chlorine, which was a major advance in the care of traumatic wounds. In the 1930s he helped create a glass perfusion pump, a forerunner to the artificial heart. His reputation later became marred in controversy because of his strong support for Eugenic policies of sterilisation for those with families with hereditary diseases and a criminal history as well euthanasia for the mentally defective. In 1944 he was singled out for collaboration with the Nazis under the Vichy government, but he died before going on trial. 1873-06-28T00:00:00+0000A virologist and physician, Burnet is best known for his discovery of acquired immunological tolerance and demonstrating how the body recognises the difference between self and non-self. Burnet shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1960 for this work. His research helped advance the development of vaccines, tissue transplantation, monoclonal antibodies and associated therapies. In addition, Burnett made significant contributions to the development of techniques to grow and study the influenza virus, including hemagglutination assays. Based on his study of the genetics of the virus he showed that the influenza virus recombined at a high frequency. 1899-09-03T00:00:00+0000Snell was a major founder of immunogenetics as a discipline. He is best known for helping to identify the major histocompatibility complex, a group of genes that code for proteins found on the surface of cells that help the immune system differentiate between self and nonself cells, and demonstrating its role in tissue graft rejection. This work laid the foundation for carrying out successful transplants in both animals and humans. Snell shared the 1980 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries concerning genetically determined structures on the cell surface that regulate immunological reactions'.1903-12-19T00:00:00+0000Kolff was a physician who invented the first kidney dialysis machine in 1943 as a young physician working at the University of Groningen Hospital in the Netherlands. He pioneered the machine after watching a young man, aged 22, die slowly from kidney failure. Kolff developed his first prototype dialyser from orange juice cans, second-hand car parts and sausage casings. His aim was to filter wastes and water from the blood in the way that the kidney does when it is healthy. It took years for Kolff to perfect the machine. The first patient who was successfully treated by his hemodialysis machine was a 67 year old woman. 1911-02-14T00:00:00+0000Medawar was a zoologist and biologist whose studies of graft rejection demonstrated the principle of acquired immunological tolerance, the state by which substances originally considered foreign become regarded as self by the immune system. This finding laid the foundation for tissue and organ transplantation. In 1960 Medawar was awarded the Nobel Prize for the work he did in the area. 1915-02-28T00:00:00+0000Dausset was an immunologist. In 1952 he noticed that white blood cells taken from patients who had received blood transfusions agglutinated when mixed with antibodies. He realised this was due to the genetic differences between donors and recipients. Eight years later he discovered the first leukocyte antigen, an important marker found on the surface of cells that helps the immune system recognise foreign substances. He subsequently worked out the complex relationship between tissue compatibility and graft survival. In 1980 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work on tissue typing which is essential to the success of transplants. 1916-10-19T00:00:00+0000Murray was a plastic surgeon. He performed the first successful kidney transplant between identical twins in 1954. The operation lasted five and half hours and involved the transplantation of a healthy kidney from Robert Herrick into his twin brother, Richard, who was dying of chronic nephritis. Four years later Murray performed the first successful transplant from a non-identical donor and in 1962 the first cadaveric renal transplant. In 1990 Murray shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries concerning organ and cell transplantation in the treatment of human disease.' 1919-04-01T00:00:00+0000Good was a physician and scientific researcher whose work on the cellular mechanisms of immunity earned him the reputation as one of the founders of modern immunology. In 1962 he helped demonstrate the two-component system of immunity. The first consisted of T cells, produced by the thymus gland, which he showed were important players in cell-mediated immunity. The second were the B cells, produced by the bone marrow, which he identified as responsible for producing antibodies. Three years later he demonstrated the important role tonsils play in the immune system. In addition to these landmark discoveries, he worked out, through experiments on mice, the crucial role of T cells in the rejection of skin allografts. He used this finding to perform the first successful bone marrow transplant between persons who were not identical twins. 1922-05-21T00:00:00+0000Barnard was a cardiac surgeon who performed the world's first successful human to human heart transplant, in 1967. He carried this out at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town on Louis Washansky, a 53 year old grocer. Washanasky received the heart of Denise Darvall, a young woman who was declared brain dead after being run over by car. He died from pneumonia 18 days after the heart transplant.1922-11-08T00:00:00+0000Taylor was part of the team that completed the first kidney transplant in North England in 1976 and was closely involved in drawing up the Human Organ Transplant Act in Britain which made the commercialisation of human tissue illegal. Director of the transplant unit at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle between 1970 and 1995, Taylor performed more than 2000 kidney transplants on patients. 1932-12-10T00:00:00+0000Levinsky was an immunologist who specialised in immunodeficiency diseases. In 1979 he performed Britain's first successful bone marrow transplant at Great Ormond Street in London with Christine Kinnon and Adrian Thrasher. His work laid the pathway to the discovery of the genetic basis of several primary immunodeficiency diseases. He was one of the first scientists in the UK to obtain funding to conduct clinical trials using gene therapy to treat fatal immunodeficiency conditions. 1943-10-16T00:00:00+0000Carrel was a French surgeon and biologist. Inspired by lessons he took from from an embroideress, he developed new techniques for suturing blood vessels that minimised damage to the vascular wall. He was awarded the 1912 Nobel Prize for Medicine in recognition of 'his work on vascular structure and the transplantation of blood vessels and organs'. During World War I he helped develop a new method for treating wounds based on chlorine, which was a major advance in the care of traumatic wounds. In the 1930s he helped create a glass perfusion pump, a forerunner to the artificial heart. His reputation later became marred in controversy because of his strong support for Eugenic policies of sterilisation for those with families with hereditary diseases and a criminal history as well euthanasia for the mentally defective. In 1944 he was singled out for collaboration with the Nazis under the Vichy government, but he died before going on trial.1944-11-05T00:00:00+0000Gale is an American physician and medical scientist whose career has focused on the biology and therapy of bone marrow and blood cancers. He is an international expert on the health effects of radiation. A pioneer in bone marrow transplantation, Gale has helped to advance knowledge about the immune-mediated anti-leukaemia affects of transplants (graft-versus leukaemia) and other immune effects of transplants in humans like like graft-versus-host disease and post-transplant immune deficiency. 1945-10-11T00:00:00+0000The operation was carried out by Richard Lawler at the Little Company of Mary Hospital in Chicago. He removed a kidney from a patient with cirrhosis who had died of liver disease and transplanted into Ruth Tucker, a 49 year old patient who had polycystic kidney disease. Against all expectations Ruth survived and lived for another five years. She subsequently died of coronary occlusion unrelated to the transplant. 1950-06-17T00:00:00+0000The transplant was carried out by Edward Donall Thomas at the Mary Imogene Basset Hospital in New York, which was affiliated to Cornell University. Thomas gave the treatment to a patient with leukaemia. It involved using high doses of total-body irradiation to wipe out the cancer and then infusing marrow cells from an identical twin. While the transplant was initially successful, the patient died later from a recurrence of leukaemia. The achievement was published in ED Thomas, HL Lochte, WC Lu, JW Ferrebee, 'Intravenous infusion of bone marrow in patients receiving radiation and chemotherapy'. The New England Journal of Medicine, 257 (J.W. (12 September 1957), 491–6.1957-09-12T00:00:00+0000Each sick child was terminally ill and chemotherapy was of no further use. Lethal levels of radiation were used to try to eradicate the leukaemia, followed by the infusion of genetically identical marrow (from the healthy twin).1959-01-01T00:00:00+0000The proceedure was performed by physician-scientist Robert Good to treat boy born with severe combined immunodeficiency. 1968-01-01T00:00:00+0000The drug was developed by Gertrude Elion in 1957 as part of her development of purine analogues. 1968-03-01T00:00:00+0000The transplant was carried out by Richard O'Reilly and Robert Good. This lays the foundation for the routine use of bone marrow transplants for treating some blood cancers. Such transplants are classed as immunotherapy because immune cells from the donor kill cancer cells in the recipient. 1973-01-01T00:00:00+0000David spent all his life from birth isolated in a sterile plastic 'bubble' to prevent him from contracting disease. He was given the bone marrow from his older sister in the hope that it would stimulate the growth of his immune system. The marrow was treated to cleanse it of germs, but this process failed to eliminate an undetected dormant Epstein Barr virus which led to David getting infectious mononucleosis. David died less than two months after receiving the bone marrow transplant. He was twelve years old. 1983-10-20T00:00:00+0000Orthoclone OKT3 (muromonamb0CD3) was approved as an immunosuppressant drug to reduce patients' rejection of their kidney transplants. It is a mouse-derived (murine) monoclonal antibody (Muromonab-CD3) that targets a membrane protein on the surface of T cells. OKT3 was first developed in 1979 by Patrick Kung at Ortho Diagnostics as tool to identify different T-cell subsets in humans. It took Kung time to persuade his company to develop the monoclonal antibody as a drug. 1986-06-19T00:00:00+0000Medawar was a zoologist and biologist whose work on skin grafts demonstrated the principle of acquired immunological tolerance, the state by which substances originally considered foreign become regarded as self by the immune system. His work helped improve the success of tissue and organ transplants. In 1960 Medawar was awarded the Nobel Prize for the work he did in the area. 1987-10-02T00:00:00+0000Snell was a major founder of immunogenetics as a discipline. He is best known for helping to identify the major histocompatibility complex, a group of genes that code for proteins found on the surface of cells that help the immune system differentiate between self and nonself cells, and demonstrating its role in tissue graft rejection. This work laid the foundation for carrying out successful transplants in both animals and humans. Snell shared the 1980 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries concerning genetically determined structures on the cell surface that regulate immunological reactions'.1996-06-06T00:00:00+0000Barnard was a South African cardiac surgeon who performed the world's first successful human to human heart transplant, in 1967. He carried this out at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town on Louis Washansky, a 53 year old grocer. Washanasky received the heart of Denise Darvall, a young woman who was declared brain dead after being run over by car. He died from pneumonia 18 days after the heart transplant. 2001-09-02T00:00:00+0000Good was an American physician and scientific researcher whose work on the cellular mechanisms of immunity earned him the reputation as one of the founders of modern immunology. In 1962 he helped demonstrate the two-component system of immunity. The first consisted of T cells, produced by the thymus gland, which he showed were important players in cell-mediated immunity. The second were the B cells, produced by the bone marrow, which he identified as responsible for producing antibodies. Three years later he demonstrated the important role tonsils play in the immune system. In addition to these landmark discoveries, he worked out, through experiments on mice, the crucial role of T cells in the rejection of skin allografts. He used this finding to perform the first successful bone marrow transplant between persons who were not identical twins.2003-06-13T00:00:00+0000Taylor was part of the team that completed the first kidney transplant in North England in 1976 and was closely involved in drawing up the Human Organ Transplant Act in Britain which made the commercialisation of human tissue illegal. Director of the transplant unit at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle between 1970 and 1995, Taylor performed more than 2000 kidney transplants on patients.2003-10-24T00:00:00+0000Levinsky was a South African born immunologist who specialised in immunodeficiency diseases. In 1979 he performed Britain's first successful bone marrow transplant at Great Ormond Street in London with Christine Kinnon and Adrian Thrasher. His work laid the pathway to the discovery of the genetic basis of several primary immunodeficiency diseases. He was one of the first scientists in the UK to obtain funding to conduct clinical trials using gene therapy to treat fatal immunodeficiency conditions. 2007-01-01T00:00:00+0000Kolff was a Dutch-American physician who invented the first kidney dialysis machine in 1943 as a young physician working at the University of Groningen Hospital in the Netherlands. He pioneered the machine after watching a young man, aged 22, die slowly from kidney failure. Kolff developed his first prototype dialyser from orange juice cans, second-hand car parts and sausage casings. His aim was to filter wastes and water from the blood in the way that the kidney does when it is healthy. It took years for Kolff to perfect the machine. The first patient who was successfully treated by his hemodialysis machine was a 67 year old woman.2009-02-11T00:00:00+0000Dausset was a French immunologist. In 1952 he noticed that white blood cells taken from patients who had received blood transfusions agglutinated when mixed with antibodies. He realised this was due to the genetic differences between donors and recipients. Eight years later he discovered the first leukocyte antigen, an important marker found on the surface of cells that helps the immune system recognise foreign substances. He subsequently worked out the complex relationship between tissue compatibility and graft survival. In 1980 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work on tissue typing which is essential to the success of transplants. 2009-06-06T00:00:00+0000Murray was an American plastic surgeon. He performed the first successful kidney transplant between identical twins in 1954. The operation lasted five and half hours and involved the transplantation of a healthy kidney from Robert Herrick into his twin brother, Richard, who was dying of chronic nephritis. Four years later Murray performed the first successful transplant from a non-identical donor and in 1962 the first cadaveric renal transplant. In 1990 Murray shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries concerning organ and cell transplantation in the treatment of human disease.' 2012-11-26T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places
28 Jun 1873Alexis Carrel was born in Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon, FranceCarrelRockefeller University
3 Sep 1899Frank Macfarlane Burnet born in Traralgon, Victoria, Australia BurnetWalter and Eliza Hall Institute
19 Dec 1903George D Snell was born in Bradford MA, USASnellJackson Laboratory
14 Feb 1911Willem J Kolff was born Leiden, NetherlandsKolff 
28 Feb 1915Peter Brian Medawar was born in Rio de Janeiro, BrazilMedawarUniversity College London
19 Oct 1916Jean Dausset was born in Toulouse, FranceDaussetUniversity of Paris
1 Apr 1919Joseph Murray was born in Milford MA, USAJoseph MurrayBrigham and Women's Hospital
21 May 1922Robert A Good was born in Crosby, Minnesota, USAGoodUniversity of Minnesota
8 Nov 1922Christiaan Barnard was born in Beaufort West, South AfricaBarnardUniversity of Cape Town
10 Dec 1932Robert Murray Ross Taylor was born in Coatbridge, Scotland, United KingdomTaylorRoyal Victoria Infirmary
16 Oct 1943Roland Levinsky was born in Bloemfontein, South AfricaLevinskyGreat Ormond Street Hospital, Institute of Child Health, University College London
5 Nov 1944Alexis Carrel diedCarrelRockefeller University
11 Oct 1945Robert P Gale was born in New York City, USAGaleUniversity of California Los Angeles
17 Jun 1950The first successful kidney transplant was performedLawlerLittle Company of Mary Hospital
12 Sep 1957First report of successful bone marrow transplants performed in human patientsThomas, Lochte, Lu, FerrebeeBassett Medical Center, Cornell University
1959Bone marrow transplants in two sets of identical twin girls fails to eradicate leukaemiaThomas, Ferrebee, Sahler Bassett Medical Center
1968First successful bone marrow transplant from a siblingGoodMemorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
March 1968FDA approved azathioprine, an immunosuppressant to prevent rejection of kidney transplantsElionWellcome Research Laboratories
1973First successful bone marrow transplant from unrelated donorGood, O'ReillyMemorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
20 Oct 1983Bone marrow transplant performed in attempt to save life of David Vetter, who was born with severe combined immune deficiency, an inherited genetic disorderVetter 
June 1986First monoclonal antibody approved as a drug for use in humansChang, Kung, Gringas, Schlossman, GoldsteinOrtho Diagnostics
2 Oct 1987Peter Medawar diedMedawarUniversity College London
6 Jun 1996George D Snell diedSnellJackson Laboratory
2 Sep 2001Christiaan Barnard diedBarnardUniversity of Cape Town
13 Jun 2003Robert A Good diedGoodUniversity of Minnesota
24 Oct 2003Robert Murray Ross Taylor diedTaylorRoyal Victoria Infirmary
1 Jan 2007Roland Levinsky diedLewinskyGreat Ormond Street Hospital, Institute of Child Health, University College London
11 Feb 2009Willem J Kolff diedKolffUniversity of Utah
6 Jun 2009Jean Dausset diedDaussetUniversity of Paris
26 Nov 2012Joseph Murray diedJoseph MurrayBrigham and Women's Hospital

28 Jun 1873

Alexis Carrel was born in Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon, France

3 Sep 1899

Frank Macfarlane Burnet born in Traralgon, Victoria, Australia

19 Dec 1903

George D Snell was born in Bradford MA, USA

14 Feb 1911

Willem J Kolff was born Leiden, Netherlands

28 Feb 1915

Peter Brian Medawar was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

19 Oct 1916

Jean Dausset was born in Toulouse, France

1 Apr 1919

Joseph Murray was born in Milford MA, USA

21 May 1922

Robert A Good was born in Crosby, Minnesota, USA

8 Nov 1922

Christiaan Barnard was born in Beaufort West, South Africa

10 Dec 1932

Robert Murray Ross Taylor was born in Coatbridge, Scotland, United Kingdom

16 Oct 1943

Roland Levinsky was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa

5 Nov 1944

Alexis Carrel died

11 Oct 1945

Robert P Gale was born in New York City, USA

17 Jun 1950

The first successful kidney transplant was performed

12 Sep 1957

First report of successful bone marrow transplants performed in human patients

1959

Bone marrow transplants in two sets of identical twin girls fails to eradicate leukaemia

1968

First successful bone marrow transplant from a sibling

Mar 1968

FDA approved azathioprine, an immunosuppressant to prevent rejection of kidney transplants

1973

First successful bone marrow transplant from unrelated donor

20 Oct 1983

Bone marrow transplant performed in attempt to save life of David Vetter, who was born with severe combined immune deficiency, an inherited genetic disorder

Jun 1986

First monoclonal antibody approved as a drug for use in humans

2 Oct 1987

Peter Medawar died

6 Jun 1996

George D Snell died

2 Sep 2001

Christiaan Barnard died

13 Jun 2003

Robert A Good died

24 Oct 2003

Robert Murray Ross Taylor died

24 Oct 2003

Roland Levinsky died

11 Feb 2009

Willem J Kolff died

6 Jun 2009

Jean Dausset died

26 Nov 2012

Joseph Murray died