Transplant surgery first performed on a human
The first successful transplants were of the cornea, the clear covering of the eye. The corneal transplant was first performed in humans in December 1905, following almost a century of experiments using animals, mainly rabbits.
This first transplant surgery was performed by Austrian ophthalmologist Eduard Zirm, who transplanted the cornea’s in both eyes of a man who had previously been blinded. Although there were complications following surgery in one eye, the recipient regained sight in the other eye and was able to return to work.
Rejection is not a problem in 9 out of 10 cases, because the cornea does not normally have a blood supply, so the white cells responsible for tissue rejection cannot reach it.