The world’s first organ transplants


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tongue kidney

PARIS: Fifty years after the first heart transplant in South Africa, here is look back over the history of human organ transplants.

The discovery of the immunosuppressive effects of cyclosporine, derived from a microscopic fungus, gave new impetus to transplants from the early 1980s, greatly reducing the risks of organ rejection.


In November 1869 Swiss doctor Jacques-Louis Reverdin carries out in Paris the first modern skin transplant. He covers a wound on a patient’s left elbow with skin taken from their right arm.


In June 1950 in the US city of Chicago, doctor Richard Lawler transplants the kidney of a deceased person into a woman. The organ is rejected after 10 months but the patient survives for five years.

Two years later in Paris, the team of Jean Hamburger carries out the first kidney transplant from a living donor. The patient dies 21 days later.


In 1963 in the US city of Denver, Thomas Starzl attempts the first liver transplant but the three-year-old patient dies.

The professor is more successful in 1967 when the 19-month-old organ recipient survives for more than a year.


The first lung transplant is carried out in June 1963 in Jackson, United States, by James Hardy. The patient survives 18 days.


Christiaan Barnard carries out the first human-to-human heart transplant in December 1967 in Cape Town. The patient survives 18 days but dies from pneumonia.

The first transplant with an artificial heart is carried out in December 1982 in Salk Lake City in the United States. The patient survives 122 days.


In January 1998 in Cleveland, United States, a successful larynx transplant is carried out on a man who has lost his vocal cords in a motorcycle accident. It is only made public in 2001.


In September 1998 at Lyon, France, the team of Professor Jean-Michel Dubernard transplants a donor’s hand on to a 47-year-old New Zealander. It is amputated in February 2001 after the patient abandons his anti-rejection treatment.

In January 2000 a transplant of a patient’s two hands and the lower part of his forearms is carried out by Dubernard.


The first successful tongue transplant is carried out in July 2003 in Vienna on a person suffering from mouth cancer.


In November 2005 in Amiens, France, a partial face transplant involving nose, lips and chin is carried out on a woman disfigured by her dog, by the team of Dubernard and Bernard Devauchelle.

In March 2010 in Barcelona, Spain, a group led by Joan Pere Barret carries out the first successful complete face transplant on a man deformed in an accident.

In August 2015 in New York the team of Professor Eduardo Rodriguez carries out a complete face transplant including the scalp, ears and ear ducts. It is considered the most comprehensive face transplant to date.


In September 2006, the first penis transplant is successfully carried out in China on 44-year-old man. Two weeks later, he asks for the organ to be removed due to psychological trauma.


In September 2014 in Gothenburg, Sweden, a woman gives birth to a baby after receiving a uterus transplant, in a few first.-AFP