Wednesday, November 07, 2007

1st Transplant

The first successful kidney transplant was performed by physician Joseph Murray in 1954 at Brigham Hospital (where I am now!) The transplant was performed between identical twins, the Herrick brothers (shown in picture) which is important because it means that there was no chance of organ rejection, given that the genetic background between the donor and the recipient was the same.

Nowadays we can do transplants between most individuals provided their blood types match and they don't have pre-formed antibodies against the potential donor kidney. The only hitch is that we have to give toxic medications which suppress the immune system, tricking the body into accepting this foreign piece of tissue and allowing it to function as a replacement kidney. Most of the time this works, but from time to time the body still "rejects" the organ when it doesn't. Today for instance I met somebody who is on his 3rd kidney transplant already because he had already rejected the first two!

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