Kidneys Saved the Day

In 1933, the Soviet surgeon Yu Yu Voronoy performed the first human-to-human kidney transplant. The kidney was obtained about from a deceased donor about 6 hours after death but failed, most likely due to a mismatch of blood types. as transplanted across a major blood group mismatch probably accounted for its prompt failure. There were numerous attempts over the decades and most failed, usually within hours, weeks or sometimes months until 1954 when Joseph Murray led a team in performing the first successful kidney transplant using the recipient’s identical twin as the donor. Based on that success, Murray’s group performed another 12 kidney transplants in 1958 and although 11 didn’t survive longer than a month, one of them – the recipient of a fraternal brother’s kidney – survived for 20 years and represented the first time human kidney transplantation overcame the genetic barrier. In France, five months later, Jean Hamburger’s team were similarly successful with a fraternal twin transplant and the recipient lived for 26 years, passing away from unrelated causes.