Richard J. Herrick

Richard J. Herrick

Birth
Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA
Death 14 Mar 1963 (aged 31)
Shrewsbury, Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA
Burial Rutland, Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA
Memorial ID 51386928 · View Source
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Medical Pioneer. He was the recipient in the world's first successful human organ transplant. The organ donor was his identical twin brother, Ronald Lee Herrick. In 1954, Richard was terminally ill with chronic nephritis, an inflammation of the nephrons in his kidneys, so Ronald volunteered to donate one of his kidneys for Richard. No previous human organ transplant surgery had been successful, and doctors were struggling to find a way to stop rejection of the transplanted organ that had claimed the lives of every other transplant recipient. However, because the Herricks were identical twins, doctors correctly thought that the likelihood of the organ being rejected would be reduced for them. The doctors even had both brothers fingerprinted by a police department to ensure that they were identical, not fraternal, twins. The transplant surgery was performed on December 23, 1954, by Dr. Joseph Murray. Murray later won the 1990 Nobel Prize for his work in medicine. The surgery was performed at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, which is now Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Richard Herrick not only survived the surgery, but he met his future wife Clare in the recovery room. Clare was the nursing supervisor for the recovery room, and she volunteered for one-on-one care for Richard on that Christmas weekend because she was away from her home in Nova Scotia and had no holiday plans. Richard and Clare later married and had two children. One of their children became a teacher and the other became a nurse at a kidney dialysis unit. Richard lived an additional eight years after the transplant, and enjoyed good health before developing problems in his new kidney that were unrelated to the surgery. With his health failing, Richard died with Clare by his side.

Bio by: Steven Tynan


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: kdkb
  • Added: 20 Apr 2010
  • Find a Grave Memorial 51386928
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Richard J. Herrick (15 Jun 1931–14 Mar 1963), Find a Grave Memorial no. 51386928, citing Rutland Rural Cemetery, Rutland, Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .