Though the concept of transplanting one part of someone’s body onto someone else’s body has existed for centuries [see painting], even the concept of transferring tissue from one part of someone’s body to an injured part has only been successfully implemented since 1823.
The legendary transplantation of a soldier’s leg by Saints Cosmas and Damian, assisted by angels - Artist Unknown, ca. mid-1500s.
Of course, human-to-human transplants of tissues have an even shorter history than autografting, and organ transplants shorter yet. But within the past century, amazing strides forward have been made within the medical arts and practice of transplanting parts from (both living and deceased) people into other people.
Here’s a brief timeline of some significant milestones:
1823 - Germany - First autograft of skin, from one part of the body to another.
Mid-Late 1800s - First auto-transplants of bone segments - significant advances made during US Civil War - well-established practice by 1900
[Initial phase of skin auto-graft, 1924]
1905 - Moravia [Czech Republic] - First human-to-human transplant - corneas!
1908 - Switzerland - First successful skin transplantation from a deceased donor to a live recipient.
Early 1900s - First successful person-to-person (deceased and living) transplantation of soft tissues, bones, and corneas
1949 - U.S. Navy Tissue Bank established - first processing and storage facility for bone and tissue transplant materials and donations
1954 - Boston, MA, USA - First organ transplant! - Live identical twins - Kidney
[Flushing the kidney before transplanting]
[The twins, several decades on, in as close to perfect health as an organ recipient can be]
1955 - Canada - First successful heart valve allograph - descending aortal valve
1962 - Boston, MA, USA - First kidney transplant from a deceased donor to a live recipient - same doctors (Dr. Joseph Murray and Dr. David Hume) as first living kidney transplant
1966 - Minneapolis, MN, USA - First successful pancreas transplant
1967 - Denver, CO, USA - First successful liver transplant
1967 - Cape Town, South Africa - First successful heart transplant!
[First transplant patient Washkansky recovering well after receiving the heart of a car wreck victim]
[Dr. Christiaan Barnard was the doctor who performed the first transplant - he was sort of a big deal]
1968 - USA - Uniform Anatomical Gift Act establishes the Uniform Donor Card as a legal document for anyone 18 years of age or older to legally donate his or her organs upon death.
1979 - USA - First living pancreas transplant - mother-to-child - part of pancreas transplanted to child allowed mother to retain enough pancreas for herself, and allowed child to also receive enough pancreas
1981 - Stanford, CA, USA - First successful heart-lung transplant
1983 - Toronto, Ontario, Canada - First successful single-lung transplant
1983 - USA - FDA approves Cyclosporine! A revolutionary anti-rejection drug. For the first time, the average survival rate of organ recipients exceeds 5 years.
1986 - Toronto, Ontario, Canada - First successful double-lung transplant
1986 - QLD, Australia - "Brisbane Technique" for splitting donor livers developed - tested on animals before human use.
1986 - USA - First heart-only transplant in 14 years - beginning of modern era of heart transplantation
1987 - Australia - First segmental liver transplant to a child - allowing a liver that matched but was too big for the child to be used
1988 - UK - First successful intestinal transplant - small intestine, including bowel.
1988 - France - First successful two-in-one liver transplant - one liver split in half, given to two patients
1989 - Chicago, IL, USA (German team leading) - First successful living-related liver transplant - one lobe of functional liver transplanted into relative with non-functional liver
1990 - Palo Alto, CA, USA - First successful related lung transplant - one lobe of lung transplanted from a woman to her 12-year-old daughter
2002 - Australia - First single-segment liver transplant on a newborn baby - youngest liver transplant at 24 days old
2005 - Japan - First living donor islet transplant! - now performed with both living and deceased donors - can eliminate insulin-dependency in Type 1 diabetes with higher success rates and lower complication rates than full-pancreas transplants
Legacy of Life, Schooley Mitchell (It’s a telecom company, don’t ask - it was some good info)
Chapman, JR, 1992, Transplantation in Australia—50 years of progress. MJA 157: 47 - Available on PubMed
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