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Medical transplant pioneer dies in US

Joseph Murray, who won the Nobel Prize for performing first-ever successful organ transplant, passes away at age of 93.
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2012 13:45

The doctor who performed the world's first successful kidney transplant and won a Nobel Prize for his pioneering work, has died in Boston.

News of  Dr Joseph Murray's passing on Monday was confirmed by a spokesman at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

He was 93 years old and died in hospital after suffering a stroke at his home in Boston.

According to the Britannica Online Encyclopedia, Murray began his career in medicine after graduating from Harvard Medical School in the 1940s.

Murray traced his interest in the emerging science of transplants to the three years he spent on the surgical ward of an army hospital in Pennsylvania during the second world war.

He completed his surgical training at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and later returned to join the staff and serve as chief of plastic surgery.

Murray and his colleagues had developed new surgical techniques after gaining knowledge by transplanting kidneys on dogs.

In December 1954, they performed surgery on human patients. A 23-year-old man with end-stage kidney failure was the beneficiary of that feat.

The sick twin had a functioning kidney transplanted from his brother. After the procedure, he went on to live for another eight years, marrying a nurse he met at the hospital and having two children.

More than 600,000 people worldwide have gone on to receive transplants since Murray's innovation.

He went on to win the Nobel Prize for performing the first-ever successful organ transplant.

Murray was born on April 1, 1919, in Milford, Massachusetts.

In a brief autobiography for the Nobel Prize organisation, he said he and his extended family had been "blessed in our lives beyond my wildest dreams".

"My only wish would be to have 10 more lives to live on this planet. If that were possible, I'd spend one lifetime each in embryology, genetics, physics, astronomy and geology," Murray said.

"The other lifetimes would be as a pianist, backwoodsman, tennis player, or writer for the National Geographic."

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