Researchers experimented with organ transplantation on animals and humans in the 18th century. There were many failures over the years, but by the mid-20th century, scientists were performing successful organ transplants. Transplants of kidneys, livers, hearts, pancreata, intestine, lungs, and heart-lungs are now considered routine medical treatment.
Important medical breakthroughs such as tissue typing and immunosuppressant drugs allow for more organ transplants and a longer survival rate for recipients. The most notable development in this area was Jean Borel's discovery of an immunosuppressant drug in the mid-1970s. Cyclosporine was approved for commercial use in November 1983.
Unfortunately, the need for organ transplants continues to exceed the supply of organs. But as medical technology improves and more donors become available, the number of people who live longer and healthier lives continues to increase each year.
1st successful kidney transplant*
Dr. Joseph E. Murray, Brigham & Women's Hospital, Boston, MA1954
First successful pancreas/kidney transplant
Drs. Richard Lillehei, William Kelly, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN1966
First successful liver transplant*
Dr. Thomas Starzl, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO1967
First isolated pancreas transplant
Dr. Richard Lillehei, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN1968
First successful heart transplant
Dr. Norman Shumway, Stanford University Hospital, Stanford, CA1968
First successful heart-lung transplant
Dr. Bruce Reitz, Stanford University Hospital, Stanford, CA1981
First successful single lung transplant*
Dr. Joel Cooper, Toronto Lung Transplant Group, Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Canada1983
First successful double lung transplant*
Dr. Joel Cooper, Toronto Lung Transplant Group, Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Canada1986
First successful living-related liver transplant
Dr. Christoph Broelsch, University of Chicago Medical Center, Chicago, IL1989
First successful living-related lung transplant
Dr. Vaughn A. Starnes, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, CA1990
* Transplant was the first of its kind in the world.