Organ transplant pioneer dies at age 93
When Dr. Joseph E. Murray performed the first human organ transplant in 1954, not everyone was pleased with the historic breakthrough. Some religious leaders and ethicists worried that he was playing God, in Murray’s words.
Five decades later, when Murray described the atmosphere surrounding the first successful kidney transplant, he voiced support for stem cell research, a scientific pursuit receiving similar criticism.
Murray, in many ways, paved the way for human organ transplants. More than 600,000 heart, kidney and liver transplants have occurred since Murray’s historic surgery.
He was co-winner of the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1990 for studies related to transplants – specifically, research into suppressing the body’s immune system response that rejects foreign tissue.
His interest in immune studies began during World War II at a hospital where doctors performed reconstructive surgery on injured soldiers. Murray was particularly interested in skin grafts given to burn victims. When the skin donor and recipient were related, doctors there found, the patient’s body was slower to reject the new tissue. And a skin graft between identical twins held permanently.
Understanding the rejection of new tissue, Murray’s first transplanted kidney was donated by the recipient’s identical twin. Richard Herrick lived eight more years after the transplant. After drugs were developed to help the body accept foreign tissue, Murray, in 1962, performed the first kidney transplant from an unrelated donor.
Murray’s death at 93 was announced this week.
… And the justices gather no moss
The U.S. Supreme Court long had a reputation of being a group of grumpy old men.
But today, the justices are callow youths compared with the Rolling Stones.
The Associated Press looked at the average age of both longtime institutions. The average age of the Stones – Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood – is 68 years and 297 days. At 71, drummer Watts is the senior Stone. The average age of the nine justices? A day shy of 67, or about one year and 10 months younger than the average Stone.
The Stones marked their 50th anniversary with a London concert this week, though some fans say the real 50th anniversary will be early in 2013.
And given their various brushes with the law, not to mention a number of civil suits, plus their education – Jagger was a student in the London School of Economics – we would venture a guess that the Stones would make better justices than the justices would do as Rolling Stones.