In June 1950 Dr. Richard Lawler performed the first successful kidney transplantation.
The donor kidney was removed from a patient who had died of cirrhosis of the liver.
The recipient was a 44-year-old woman with polycystic kidney disease, (PKD), a genetic disorder with multiple fluid-filled cysts typically in both kidneys.
Transplantation was risky but the only real option for survival for the patient, since renal dialysis was not yet widely available.
The transplanted kidney functioned for ~ 53 days. 10 months after transplantation it was rejected and removed.
With PKD in both of her kidneys, the patient’s remaining kidney functioned at ~10%, enabling her to live another 5 years when she died of unrelated cardiac disease.
This first kidney transplantation was conducted prior to development of immunosuppressant drugs and tissue typing which would have helped prevent organ rejection.