Human organ transplantation: background and consequences

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  05 Jun 1992:
Vol. 256, Issue 5062, pp. 1411-1416
DOI: 10.1126/science.1604314


The story of the renal transplant program of the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (now the Brigham and Women's Hospital) in Boston weaves together three distinct threads: the study of renal disease, the phenomenon of skin grafting in twins, and the development of surgical procedures ultimately leading to the use of chemical immunosuppression. The common leitmotiv is one of a single event or report proving to be decisive. Unanticipated consequences of successful human organ transplantation include the reorganization of clinical and nonclinical disciplines, national and international cooperation in organ preservation and distribution, tissue-typing as a marker for disease, redefinition of death in terms of brain function, better understanding of disease processes, and new health care quandaries that result from the scarcity of organ donors.