Dr. Joseph E. Murray

Dr. Joseph E. Murray

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Dr. Joseph E. Murray of Wellesley and Chappaquiddick died on Monday, Nov. 26, in Boston. He was 93.

The son of William A. Murray and Mary DePasquale, Dr. Murray was born in 1919 in Milford, where he grew up and attended Milford High School. At the College of the Holy Cross, he was a top-flight athlete, playing football, ice hockey, and baseball. Following a boyhood yearning to become a surgeon, he attended Harvard Medical School, graduating in 1943.

He went on to perform the first successful human organ transplant, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where he died.

In 1990, he won the Nobel Prize.

“Dr. Murray’s groundbreaking surgical feat came in 1954, when he removed a healthy kidney from a 23-year-old man and implanted it in the man’s ailing identical twin,” according to an obituary in the New York Times. “Dr. Murray went on to pioneer techniques that over the years changed the lives of tens of thousands of patients who received new kidneys, hearts, lungs, livers or other organs after their own had failed.

“As director of the Surgical Research Laboratory at Harvard Medical School and at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, which became Brigham and Women’s, Dr. Murray was a leader in the study of transplant techniques, the mechanisms of organ rejection and the use of drugs to thwart it.

“Among other procedures, he performed kidney transplants involving more than two dozen pairs of identical twins. He performed the first successful transplant to a nonidentical recipient, in 1959, and the first using a cadaver kidney, in 1962. And he trained doctors who became leaders in transplantation around the world.

“Though Dr. Murray devoted most of his career to reconstructive plastic surgery, he was most famous as a transplant surgeon, especially after receiving the Nobel. He shared the $703,000 prize with Dr. E. Donnall Thomas, a pioneer in bone marrow transplantation.

“In 1945, Dr. Murray married Virginia Link, an aspiring singer he had met at a Boston Symphony Orchestra concert while he was in medical school.

“In addition to Mrs. Murray, known as Bobby, his survivors include three sons, Richard, J. Link, and Thomas; three daughters, Virginia Murray, Margaret Murray Dupont, and Dr. Katherine Murray Leisure, and 18 grandchildren.

“Dr. Murray was a prominent summer resident of Chappaquiddick Island, where he and Mrs. Murray bought a plot in 1970 and camped on it with their family until they could build a house there.”

Visiting hours at the George F. Doherty & Sons Funeral Home, 477 Washington St. (Rt.16), in Wellesley are from 4 to 8 pm on Friday, Nov. 30. A Funeral Mass will be held in St. Paul Church, 502 Washington St., Wellesley, Saturday, Dec. 1, at 11 am. Relatives and friends kindly invited.

Interment will take place in Edgartown Cemetery on Monday, Dec. 3, at 1:30 pm.

In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may be made to “Gifts in Memory of Dr. Joseph Murray” Brigham & Women’s Hospital Development Office, 116 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02116.

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