Modern Organ Transplants, 2019, NPR Boise State Public Radio

First Female Transplant

In 1956, another organ transplant was performed when Edith Helm needed a kidney. She was twenty years old, married, and "at death's door". Her twin, Wanda, donated a kidney to her, giving her the ability to live a long and healthy life. Having the procedure come so shortly after the 1954 transplant truly displayed how far transplantation had come in a short amount of time.

Wanda Foster, Edith Helm and Joseph E. Murray celebrating 40th anniversary of 1956 transplant, 1996, Dailymail 

 Edith and Wanda Helm, 1956, Boston.com

“I’ve never been operated on before, never been east before, never been on a plane before. This has really been an experience...’’ 

~Edith Helm, 1956, The Boston Globe

National Organ Transplant Act of 1984

"To provide for the establishment of the Task Force on Organ Transplantation and the Organ Procedurement and Transplantation Network, to authorize financial assistance for organ procedurement organizations, and other purposes."

~National Organ Transplant Act, October 19th 1984, Government Publishing Office

National Organ Transplant Act, October 19, 1984, Government Publishing Office

In 1984, The U.S. Congress passed The National Organ Transplant Act, creating a fair and ethical system that allowed organ transplants to become more accessible with a waiting list, a program that matches donors to recipients. In addition to creating a framework for the U.S. organ transplant system, it also acted as a model for other transplant networks worldwide. 

"The truth is that none of us in the 1950's remotely envisioned the height to which transplantation would rise and the way it has changed the face of medicine."

~Dr. Thomas E. Starzl, 2010​​​​​​​, The New York Times

The Twins' Legacy

Richard and Clare lived happily for eight years until Richard's death on March 14, 1963 in his home in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. He told his wife, "For God's sake, don't let me go back to the hospital." Clare said, "I loved one man in my life, that was Richard. I just cherish the memories." Later, Ronald passed away at age 79 due to complications after heart surgery. Today, the Herrick twins are still recognized as heroes in the medical community.

Richard Herrick's Gravestone, April 10, 2010, Find a Grave

"Ronald Herrick, 1st organ donor" By Clarke Canfield, December 29, 2010, Associated Press News


Diagrams of Organ Transplant Statistics, 2018-2020, United Network for Organ Sharing

"To our good fortune, the basic science of transplantation biology was just beginning to explore."

~ Joseph E. Murray, 2001,"Surgery of the Soul: Reflections on a Curious Career"