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Transplant pioneer Dr Joseph Murray dies aged 93

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Dr. Joseph Murray, performer of the world’s first successful kidney transplant, has died aged 93.

The Nobel Prize winner in medicine and physiology died Monday in Boston, according to Reuters. Tom Langford, spokesman for Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told the publication that Murray died after suffering a stroke last Thursday.

Murray’s transplant was performed on identical twin boys in 1954, where a kidney was transplanted from one twin to the other. Since then, hundreds of thousands of transplants on a variety of organs — including the heart, liver and kidney — have been performed worldwide. Recent developments in medicine have taken this further; facial transplants are being refined, and surgeons have began toying with the prospect of full-limb replacement.

Without the first transplant, all of this would not be possible.

“Kidney transplants seem so routine now,” Murray told The New York Times after he won the Nobel Prize for his work in bone marrow research. “But the first one was like Lindbergh’s flight across the ocean.”

Murray began his career in medicine after graduating from Harvard Medical School in the 1940s, later completing his training at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and eventually becoming chief of plastic surgery.

Hospital president Dr. Elizabeth Nabel said in a statement:

“The world is a better place because of all Dr. Murray has given. His legacy will forever endure in our hearts and in every patient who has received the gift of life through transplantation.”

Image credit: Alex Proimos

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— By on November 26, 2012, 8:44 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure