Nobel Prize Laureate and transplant pioneer
1919 – 2012
“Service to society is the rent we pay for
living on this planet.” ~ Dr. Joseph Murray
A gifted surgeon, brilliant scientist and devoted teacher, Dr. Murray and his team completed the first ever human organ transplant in 1954, helping to forge the path for a new field in medicine that has since saved countless lives.
Throughout his career, Dr. Murray was driven by a desire to constantly find better ways to care for his patients, whether they were suffering from severe burns or kidney failure. That was the spirit with which he and his colleagues conducted research and pushed the limits of science in hopes of finding a way to perform organ transplantation in the early 1950s. With this breakthrough in the field of organ transplantation, Dr. Murray opened the doors for hundreds of thousands of people to receive life-saving transplants. To date, more than 600,000 people world-wide have received the gift of life through transplantation.
In the decades following, Dr. Murray continued to dedicate his life to the service of others. He brought comfort to thousands of patients and families with his compassion and the exquisite care he provided. He selflessly sought to share his knowledge with his colleagues and to teach and mentor younger physicians. He devoted himself completely to his patients, his colleagues, his students and, most of all, his family.
His legacy will forever endure in our hearts and in every patient who has received the gift of life through transplantation. As we mourn his loss and celebrate his life, let us also be guided and inspired in our own work and lives by some of his most memorable words, etched on the wall above the exhibit which houses his Nobel Prize in the Peter Bent Brigham building lobby: “Service to society is the rent we pay for living on this planet.”
Watch a video from Dr. Murray reflecting on his career
Download photos of Dr. Murray
"Difficulties are opportunities. This is a quote that sits atop my father’s desk at home. It reflects the unwavering optimism of a great man who was generous, curious, and always humble.
While the world knows Dr. Joseph Murray as a Nobel Prize Laureate and a pioneer in medicine, to our mother, his six children, and his eighteen grandchildren he was so much more. He was a driven yet gentle soul, who gave so generously of himself; to his country, his patients, his colleagues, his students, and his family.
From his earliest days as a resident at the then Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, he considered the Brigham his home. This was the place that inspired his dreams, and fostered the innovative spirit that allowed my father and his colleagues to do the ground-breaking work that has touched the lives of so many.
We are grateful that we had the opportunity to have a wonderful Thanksgiving together as a family - four generations of Murrays – and we will cherish the many happy memories we have of this remarkable man."
- Rick Murray, son of Dr. Joseph E. Murray
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This page was last modified on 11/27/2012