When you were studying medicine in early-1950s Britain, what was the prevailing attitude toward organ transplantation?
It didn’t exist! While a medical student, I recall being presented with a young patient with kidney failure. I was told to make him as comfortable as possible because he would die in two weeks.
This troubled me. Some of our patients were very young, very deserving. Aside from their kidney disease, there was nothing else wrong with them. I wondered then if it might be possible to do organ transplants, because kidneys are fairly simple in terms of their plumbing. I thought in gardening terms. Might it not be possible to do an organ graft, replacing a malfunctioning organ with a healthy one? I was told, “No, that’s impossible.”
Well, I’ve always tended to dislike being told that something can’t be done. I’ve always had a somewhat rebellious nature. Just ask my wife.