AUGUSTA, Maine — Ronald Lee Herrick, who donated a kidney to his dying twin brother in 1954 in what’s recognized as the world’s first successful organ transplant, has died in Maine. He was 79.
Herrick’s wife, Cynthia, said he died Monday at the Augusta Rehabilitation Center. She said his health deteriorated after undergoing heart surgery in October.
Herrick made history in 1954 when he donated a kidney to his twin brother, Richard, at what is now the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Because they were identical twins, there was no problem with rejection. The United Network for Organ Sharing says it was the first successful transplant.
The operation on Dec. 23, 1954, kept Herrick’s brother alive for eight years. Lead surgeon Dr. Joseph Murray went on to win a Nobel Prize.