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Qui Transtulit Sustinet
An Eye for a Tooth
From Soul to Soul
“Qui Transtulit Sustinet” (He Who Transplants Still Sustains) has been Connecticut’s state motto since 1639, adopted just after the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock and shortly before the Salem witch hunt began. But now we really mean it.
On December 23, 1954, a kidney was transplanted from one healthy identical twin to his twin who was dying of renal disease. The surgery was performed at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, and John Merrill, Joseph Murray, and Hartwell Harrison led the clinical team. The operation was successful, renal function was restored in the recipient (although he would later have both his own kidneys removed in order to control hypertension), and the donor suffered no ill effects. This was the first successful transplantation, performed against a background of failure.
supply and demand
The supply of organs remains the most persistent problem in the field of organ transplantation. Waiting for a transplant is a lot trying to get into your favorite college (minus the essay.) Organ matchmaking, however, involves a more complex, but accessible alchemy, The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is where the miracles happen. When a deceased organ donor is identified, UNOS’ computer system generates a ranked list of transplant candidates who are suitable to receive each organ. UNOS matches individuals waiting for a lifesaving transplant with compatible donor organs.
The U.S. has the highest performing donation and transplant system in the world. But as good as it is, it needs to get even better to support the more than 100,000 patients on the waiting list.