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History of Transplantation

Transplants save and improve the lives of over 3000 patients every year in the UK. Over the past 100 years advances in medical sciences have allowed for the successful transplants of a number of different organs and tissues.

Here is the history of transplantation:


Alexis Carrel surgically joins blood vessels opening up possibilities for further transplant surgery.


The first corneal transplant took place restoring the sight of a blind man. Over 2000 corneal transplants now take place every year in the UK. The cornea is unique; it does not require a blood supply and can therefore be retrieved up to 24 hours after death.


Blood Transfusions used regularly during World War 1.


First worldwide successful kidney transplant takes place in Boston, USA.


The United Kingdom's first successful kidney transplant takes place at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.


First non heart beating donation takes place in the United Kingdom the operation takes place at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Current Transplantation statistics show that non-heart beating transplants are now as successful as heart-beating transplant surgeries.


First worldwide successful liver transplant takes place in Denver, USA.


World's first heart transplant takes place in South Africa. The operation was a success and the patient lived for a further 18 years.


First heart transplant in the UK takes place in London with a team of 18 doctors and nurses. The transplant was a success but the patient died nine weeks later due to infection. Now over 300 heart transplants take place every year nationwide.


United Kingdom's first liver transplant takes place at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge.


Manchester Royal Infirmary completes their first kidney transplant.


Donor Cards for kidneys introduced. The demand for donors increases and more and more successful transplants take place every year.


First Donor Transplant Coordinators appointed to oversee all aspects of organ donation and transplantation.


UK Kidney Donor Card is replaced with the Donor Card to allow people to express a wish to donate a number of organs.


Nationwide corneal transplant service is formed.


First Nationwide combined heart and lung transplant is successfully performed at Hairfield Hospital.


First successful lung only transplant takes place in the United Kingdom.


The Eye Bank opens in Manchester at Manchester Royal Infirmary. The Eye Bank screens and stores corneas for use and has a worldwide reputation for excellence in ophthalmology.


The National Organ Donor Register is commenced in order to meet the growing demand for organs for transplants in the UK. There are currently more than 16 million people on the ODR.


UK Transplant organisation is formed; a centrally funded organisation responsible for tissue typing and organ matching. The organisation also takes responsibility for increasing the number of donors.


The first lung transplant from a non-heart beating donor takes place in Sweden.


Human Tissue Act publishes legislation on the retrieval and storage of tissue. This Act brings about a change to consent legislation with regards to organ and tissue donation.


UK Transplant merges with National Blood Service to form NHS Blood and Transplant. The service aims to significantly increase the number of organs for life saving transplants.


First living liver donation in the UK takes place at St James Hospital in Leeds.


Government Taskforce publishes findings of transplant services and 14 recommendations to be implemented to meet the growing demand for life saving organs. The aim is to increase transplants by 73% by the year 2013.


Organ Donation Committee formed at Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust:

Clinical Lead for Organ Donation is Dr Kay Hawkins (Consultant Paediatric Intensive Care).

Specialist Nurse for Organ Donation is Paula Watson.