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Transplantation

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History of Transplantation

Humans have long realized the possibilities unleashed by transplantation of organs and tissue. As early as the 6th Century BC, the Indian surgeon Sushruta described how to reconstruct disfiguring facial wounds by transplanting skin and cartilage from one place on the body to another. Below is a list of significant events in the development of transplantation as a viable clinical procedure that occurred over the past century.

Read about Noble Prize winners who have contributed to our knowledge of organ transplantation.

1901

Karl Landsteiner discovers human blood groups.

1902

Alexis Carrel develops techniques for suturing blood vessels together; later, he is the first to describe transplant rejection.

1905

First successful human corneal transplant performed by Eduard Zirm.

1914–1918

Major steps in skin transplantation occurred during World War I, e.g., the tubed pedicle graft.

1930s

Peter Gorer and George Snell, at The Jackson Laboratory, discover histocompatibility antigens in mice.

1939–1945

Major advances in reconstructive surgical techniques during World War II.

1953

Peter Medawar, Rupert Billingham, and Leslie Brent publish their seminal paper, “Actively Acquired Tolerance of Foreign Cells.”

1954

First successful kidney transplant performed, between identical twins, by Joseph Murray.

1956

First successful bone marrow transplant performed in recipient twin with leukemia, by Donnall Thomas. The recipient twin was treated with total body irradiation before the transplant; the procedures resulted in complete remission of leukemia.

1957

George Hitchings and Gertrude Elion develop the immunosuppressive drug azathioprine.

1958

Discovery of the first HLA antigen by Jean Dausset.

1962

First successful reimplantation—reattachment of severed limb, resulting in limited function and feeling—performed by a surgical team led by Ronald Malt.

1966

First successful pancreas transplant performed by William Kelly and Richard Lillehei.

1967

First successful heart transplant performed by Christiaan Barnard. First successful liver transplant performed by Thomas Starzl.

1968

First bone marrow transplant using related donor for treatment of a noncancerous condition (severe combined immunodeficiency syndrome).

1971

Cyclosporin, a metabolite of the fungus Tolypocladium inflatum, is recognized to have immunosuppressive properties.

1973

First bone marrow transplant using an unrelated donor. The recipient was a child with severe combined immunodeficiency syndrome. After the seventh bone marrow infusion, hematologic function normalized.

1981

First successful heart/lung transplant performed by Bruce Reitz.

1983

First successful lung transplant performed by Joel Cooper. Cyclosporin (Sandimmune) approved for prevention of transplant rejection.

1990

Tacrolimus (Prograf) approved for prevention of transplant rejection— has immunosuppressive properties very similar to cyclosporin but is 10 to 100 times more potent on a per gram basis.

1995

Mycophenolate (CellCept) approved for the prevention of transplant rejection.

1997

Daclizumab (Zenapax) approved for preventing transplant rejection.

1998

First successful cord blood stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor to a child with sickle cell anemia.

1999

First successful transplants of pancreatic islets using the Edmonton Protocol, by James Shapiro. The transplant recipients had complications of Type I diabetes that could not be managed with insulin injections.

2005

First living donor pancreatic islet transplant from a 56-year-old woman to her 27-year-old diabetic daughter. The transplanted cells began producing insulin within minutes.

First successful partial face transplant.

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Last Updated July 17, 2008