Joseph Murray

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Joseph Murray
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Joseph Edward Murray

(1919-04-01)April 1, 1919
DiedNovember 26, 2012(2012-11-26) (aged 93)
Residence Wellesley, Massachusetts
Alma mater College of the Holy Cross and Harvard Medical School [2]
Known forFirst successful kidney transplant
Awards Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1990
Scientific career
Fields Plastic surgery, reconstructive surgery, transplantation

Joseph Edward Murray (April 1, 1919 – November 26, 2012) was an American plastic surgeon who performed the first successful human kidney transplant on identical twins Richard and Ronald Herrick on December 23, 1954. [1] [2] [3]

Kidney transplantation surgical operation

Kidney transplantation or renal transplantation is the organ transplant of a kidney into a patient with end-stage renal disease. Kidney transplantation is typically classified as deceased-donor or living-donor transplantation depending on the source of the donor organ.

Richard J. Herrick was the world's first recipient of a successful human organ transplant, receiving a kidney from his identical twin brother Ronald Lee Herrick in an operation performed by Joseph Murray in 1954.


Murray shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1990 with E. Donnall Thomas for their discoveries concerning "organ and cell transplantation in the treatment of human disease." [4] [5] [6]

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine One of five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Alfred Nobel

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, administered by the Nobel Foundation, is awarded yearly for outstanding discoveries in the fields of life sciences and medicine. It is one of five Nobel Prizes established in his will in 1895 by Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite. Nobel was interested in experimental physiology and wanted to establish a prize for scientific progress through laboratory discoveries. The Nobel Prize is presented at an annual ceremony on 10 December, the anniversary of Nobel's death, along with a diploma and a certificate for the monetary award. The front side of the medal displays the same profile of Alfred Nobel depicted on the medals for Physics, Chemistry, and Literature. The reverse side is unique to this medal. The most recent Nobel prize was announced by Karolinska Institute on 1 October 2018, and has been awarded to American James P. Allison and Japanese Tasuku Honjo – for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation.

E. Donnall Thomas American hematologist

Edward Donnall "Don" Thomas was an American physician, professor emeritus at the University of Washington, and director emeritus of the clinical research division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. In 1990 he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Joseph E. Murray for the development of cell and organ transplantation. Thomas and his wife and research partner Dottie Thomas developed bone marrow transplantation as a treatment for leukemia.


Murray was born to William A. and Mary (née DePasquale) Murray, and grew up in Milford, Massachusetts. He was of Irish and Italian descent. [7] A star athlete at the Milford High School, he excelled in football, ice hockey, and baseball. Upon graduation, Murray attended the College of the Holy Cross intending to play baseball; however, baseball practices and lab schedules conflicted; forcing him to give up baseball. He studied philosophy and English, earning a degree in humanities in 1940. Murray later attended Harvard Medical School. After graduating with his medical degree, Murray began his internship at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. During that time, he was inducted into the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army. [ citation needed ]

Milford, Massachusetts Town in Massachusetts, United States

Milford is a town in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 27,999 according to the 2010 census. First settled in 1662 and incorporated in 1780, Milford became a booming industrial and mining community in the 19th century due to its unique location which includes the nearby source of the Charles River, the Mill River, the Blackstone River watershed, and large quantities of Milford pink granite.

Milford High School (Massachusetts)

Milford High School (MHS) is the secondary school for the district of Milford, Massachusetts, Milford Public Schools. Its principal is Joshua Otlin. The assistant principals are Sissela Tucker and Richard Piergustavo.

College of the Holy Cross liberal arts college in Massachusetts, United States

The College of the Holy Cross or better known simply as Holy Cross is a private Jesuit liberal arts college in Worcester, Massachusetts. Founded in 1843, Holy Cross is the oldest Catholic college in New England and one of the oldest in the United States.

He served in the plastic surgery unit at Valley Forge General Hospital in Pennsylvania. At Valley Forge General Hospital for an esteemed plastic surgeon, Bradford Cannon, and developed a lifelong passion for plastic surgery. His unit cared for thousands of soldiers wounded on the battlefields of World War II, working to reconstruct their disfigured hands and faces. His interest in transplantation grew out of working with burn patients during his time in the Army. Murray and his colleagues observed that the burn victims rejected temporary skin grafts from unrelated donors much more slowly than had been expected, suggesting the potential for organ grafts, or transplants. [ citation needed ]

Valley Forge General Hospital

Valley Forge General Hospital is a former military hospital in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. The hospital was near both Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Valley Forge. It was the only United States Army General Hospital named for a place.

Pennsylvania State of the United States of America

Pennsylvania, officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a state located in the northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The Appalachian Mountains run through its middle. The Commonwealth is bordered by Delaware to the southeast, Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, Lake Erie and the Canadian province of Ontario to the northwest, New York to the north, and New Jersey to the east.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

After his military service, Murray completed his general surgical residency, and joined the surgical staff of the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. He then went to New York to train in plastic surgery at New York and Memorial Hospitals, returning to the Brigham as a member of the surgical staff in 1951.

In 2001, Murray published his autobiography, Surgery Of The Soul: Reflections on a Curious Career. [8]


On December 23, 1954, Murray performed the world's first successful renal transplant between the identical Herrick twins at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (later Brigham and Women's Hospital ), an operation that lasted five and a half hours. He was assisted by Dr. J. Hartwell Harrison and other noted physicians. In Operating Room 2 of the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Murray transplanted a healthy kidney donated by Ronald Herrick into his twin brother Richard, who was dying of chronic nephritis. Richard lived for eight more years, following the operation. In 1959, Murray went on to perform the world's first successful allograft and, in 1962, the world's first cadaveric renal transplant. [9]

Brigham and Womens Hospital Hospital in Massachusetts, United States

Brigham and Women's Hospital is located adjacent to Harvard Medical School, of which it is the second largest teaching affiliate. It is the largest hospital of the Longwood Medical and Academic Area in Boston, Massachusetts, US. With Massachusetts General Hospital, it is one of the two founding members of Partners HealthCare, the largest healthcare provider in Massachusetts. Brigham and Women's Hospital conducts the second largest hospital-based research program in the world, with an annual research budget of more than $630 million. Pioneering milestones include the world's first successful heart valve operation and the world's first solid organ transplant.

J. Hartwell Harrison American surgeon

John Hartwell Harrison was an American urologic surgeon, who performed the first vital human organ removal for transplant to another; this was a pivotal undertaking as a member of the medical team that received the 1961 Amory Prize of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for bringing kidney transplantation to the world.

Throughout the following years, Murray became an international leader in the study of transplantation biology, the use of immunosuppressive agents, and studies on the mechanisms of rejection. In the 1960s, top scientists investigating immunosuppressive drugs sought to work with Murray. Together, they tailored the new drug Imuran (generic azathioprine) for use in transplants. The discovery of Imuran and other anti-rejection drugs, such as prednisone, allowed Murray to carry out transplants from unrelated donors. By 1965, the survival rates after receiving a kidney transplant from an unrelated donor exceeded 65%. [ citation needed ]

As a Harvard Medical School faculty member, Murray trained physicians from around the world in transplantation and reconstructive surgery, frequently performing surgeries in developing countries. In his 20 years as director of the Surgical Research Laboratory at Harvard and the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, he inspired others who became leaders in transplantation and biology throughout the world. He served as chief plastic surgeon at the Peter Bent Brigham (which later became Brigham and Women's Hospital) until 1986. He also served as chief plastic surgeon at Children's Hospital Boston from 1972–85, retiring as professor of Surgery Emeritus in 1986 from Harvard Medical School. [ citation needed ]

In 1990, he was honored with the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his pioneering work in organ transplantation.

Murray was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences and as a regent of the American College of Surgeons. He received the American Surgical Association's Medal for Distinguished Service to Surgery, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences' Francis Amory Prize, the American Association of Plastic Surgeons' Honorary Award and Clinician of the Year Award, and the National Kidney Foundation's Gift of Life Award. He was named one of the 350 most outstanding citizens, representing the medical profession, for the City of Boston's 350th anniversary. In 1996, he was appointed Academician [10] of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in the Vatican.


Murray died on November 26, 2012, aged 93. He suffered a stroke at his suburban Boston home on Thanksgiving and died at Brigham and Women's Hospital, the very hospital where he had performed the first organ transplant operation. [11]

Murray is featured in the book Beyond Recognition, previously titled Camel Red. The book is the story of Larry Heron, who was very seriously injured in World War II, and his road to recovery, which reunited him with Murray, a former classmate.

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Thomas Starzl American physician

Thomas Earl Starzl was an American physician, researcher, and expert on organ transplants. He performed the first human liver transplants, and has often been referred to as "the father of modern transplantation."

Michael Woodruff English surgeon and biologist; transplantation and cancer researcher

Sir Michael Francis Addison Woodruff, FRS, FRCS was an English surgeon and scientist principally remembered for his research into organ transplantation. Though born in London, Woodruff spent his youth in Australia, where he earned degrees in electrical engineering and medicine. Having completed his studies shortly after the outbreak of World War II, he joined the Australian Army Medical Corps, but was soon captured by Japanese forces and imprisoned in the Changi Prison Camp. While there, he devised an ingenious method of extracting nutrients from agricultural wastes to prevent malnutrition among his fellow POWs.

Peter E M Butler, MD, FRCSI, FRCS, FRCS(Plast) is Professor of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at University College London. He is consultant plastic surgeon and head of the face transplantation team at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust in London, United Kingdom. He is Director of the Charles Wolfson Center for Reconstructive Surgery at the Royal Free Hospital, which was launched in November by The Right Honourable George Osborne, MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer at No 11 Downing Street in November 2013.

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In modern medicine, a surgeon is a physician who performs surgical operations. There are also surgeons in podiatry, dentistry and the veterinary fields.

Elliott Cutler American general

Elliot Carr Cutler CB, OBE was an American surgeon, military physician, and medical educator. He was Moseley Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School, Surgeon-in-Chief at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital from 1932 to 1947, and a Brigadier General in the U.S. Army Medical Corps.

John P. Merrill American physician

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Sir Peter John Morris, AC, FRS, FMedSci, FRCP, FRCS is an emeritus Nuffield professor of surgery at the University of Oxford, former President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, founder of the Oxford Transplant Centre and director of the Centre for Evidence in Transplantation at the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

Dr. Samuel Lee Kountz Jr. was an African-American kidney transplantation surgeon from Lexa, Arkansas. He was most distinguished for his pioneering work in the field of kidney transplantations, and in research, discoveries, and inventions in Renal Science. In 1961, while working at the Stanford University Medical Center, he performed the first successful Kidney transplant between humans who were not identical twins. Six years later, he and a team of researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, developed the prototype for the Belzer kidney perfusion machine, a device that can preserve kidneys for up to 50 hours from the time they are taken from a donor's body. It is now standard equipment in hospitals and research laboratories around the world.

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Pankaj Chandak is an Indian-born British surgeon who made innovations in the use of 3D printing in paediatric kidney transplant surgery. He has also undertaken work in education, public engagement, presenting demonstrations, and acting in The Crown television series. He graduated from Guy's and St Thomas' University of London medical school and was an anatomy demonstrator under Professor Harold Ellis CBE.

René Küss

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  1. 1 2 Sleeman, Elizabeth (2003). The International Who's Who 2004. Routledge. ISBN   1-85743-217-7.
  2. 1 2 Peter Morris (2013). "Joseph E. Murray (1919–2012)". Nature. 493 (164). doi:10.1038/493164a. PMID   23302851.
  3. Tullius, S. G. (2013). "Dr. Joseph E. Murray (1919-2012): A Life of Curiosity, Humanism, and Persistence". American Journal of Transplantation. 13 (1): 5–6. doi:10.1111/ajt.12076. PMID   23279678.
  4. Guild, W. R.; Harrison, J. H.; Merrill, J. P.; Murray, J. (1955). "Successful homotransplantation of the kidney in an identical twin". Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association. 67: 167–173. PMC   2248870 . PMID   13360847.
  5. Watts, G. (2011). "Joseph Murray: Innovative surgeon and pioneer of transplantation". The Lancet. 377 (9770): 987. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60375-9. PMID   21420544.
  6. "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1990". Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute. Retrieved November 27, 2012.
  7. Joseph E. Murray and the "Story of the First Human Kidney Transplant" ISBN   1584151366
  8. Pai, Sanjay A. (2002). "Surgery of the Soul: Reflections on a Curious Career". BMJ. 324 (7340): 795. doi:10.1136/bmj.324.7340.795. PMC   1122735 .
  10. "Joseph Murray". Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  11. "Dr. Joseph E. Murray, who performed first successful organ transplant, dies at 93". Retrieved November 27, 2012.