A small piece of transplant history

When my colleague and friend Phil Dyer recently retired as Professor of Histocompatability and Immunogenetics at Edinburgh in the Scottish Blood Transfusion Service he brought with him a small gift from his bookshelf. Phil was determined to retire without any fuss to the extent of reversing the usual embarrassment of valedictory presents by cancelling them out with his own well considered gifts. Mine turned out to be the abstract book from the first ever congress of the Transplantation Society held in 1967 in Paris.


At this time kidney transplantation had been going for only 10 years but liver transplantation was still very experimental (and usually fatal) and the first heart transplant was not performed until 6 months after this meeting. Transplantation was therefore still in its infancy. The conference proceedings are an amazing read and not only contain some interesting and ground breaking early papers but feature those that went on to become the glitterati of transplantation and immunosuppression including Merrill, Murray, Brent Billingham, Calne, Terasaki, Starzl, Woodruff, Dubernard and many, many more.

It must have been a truly fascinating meeting and an incredible time to have been involved in the specialty. Many of the attendees are still alive and well but many have sadly passed on. They have left a great legacy for patients and clinicians alike and I will look after this abstract book until it is time for me to pass it on to some suitable recipient.

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