In the intervening years our laboratory and clinical work had continued: In 1959 we had achieved a successful kidney transplant between nonidentical twins. In 1962, the year Richard died, another historic operation had taken place at Brigham: the first successful cadaveric kidney transplant, in a patient treated with immunosuppressive drugs. These breakthroughs effectively opened the doors for organ transplantation as we know it today.
Similar advances in immunology and cell biology have turned what in 1954 seemed to be science fiction into reality. Today, organ transplants save lives daily. In fact, the biggest challenge is a shortage of donor organs. More than 83,000 people are on the national waiting list.
This summer more than 2,000 transplant recipients, young and old, from all over the country convened in Minneapolis for the National Kidney Foundation U.S. Transplant Games and celebrated the 50th anniversary of transplantation. As honorary chairman, it was a wonderful opportunity to truly recognize the ultimate expression of human altruism.
Like a pebble tossed into a placid pond, the effects of Ronald Herrick's selfless decision continue to reverberate.