Fifty years ago, the prognosis for a patient with kidney failure was threatening to grim.
Transplants of kidneys from one person to another were not mainstream medicine. In fact, a transplant was so extraordinary that TIME magazine described the treatment as “the most daring of all.”
Kidney transplants still are serious operations today. But, since Mayo Clinic’s first transplant in 1963, the surgeries have become accepted medical practice. In many cases, transplantation now is the treatment of choice for patients whose kidneys are failing. It often is preferred over chronic “hemodialysis,” which relies on an artificial kidney outside the patient’s body to filter the blood and prolong life.
Mayo transplant teams have used advances in surgical techniques, drugs that suppress rejection and, of course, experience with thousands of patients to change a “daring” operation into a safe procedure.
Today at Mayo Clinic, a kidney transplant patient has a 98 percent chance of surviving one year; furthermore, the chance of surviving 10 years is in the mid-70 percent range. Continued progress in the field is accelerating the survival rate.
1963 – First kidney transplant by Mayo Clinic surgeons, performed at Saint Marys Hospital.
1967 – First Mayo kidney transplant using organ from deceased donor.
1987 – First multiple-organ transplants involving kidneys. One paired a pancreas with a kidney and the other involved a liver.
1994 – Kidney transplants for children relocated to the newly opened Mayo Eugenio Litta Children’s Hospital.
1999 – Mayo Clinic surgeons acquire a kidney from a donor by laparoscopy for the first time. Mayo Rochester records its 2,000th kidney transplant. Mayo Clinic in Arizona begins transplanting kidneys.
2000 – Mayo Clinic opens The William J. von Liebig Transplant Center, a specialty clinic for organ transplants, in the 10th floor of the Charlton Building. Mayo Clinic in Florida starts a kidney transplant program.
2004 – Mayo Clinic reaches a milestone of 3,000 kidney transplants.
2013 – Mayo Clinic in Arizona completes its 2,000th kidney transplant.
2013 – Mayo Clinic celebrates 50 years of kidney transplants with more than 4,800 procedures.