Ronald Lee Herrick Memorial:June 15, 1931–December 27, 2010
Version of Record online: 22 FEB 2011
©2011 The Author Journal compilation©2011 The American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons
American Journal of Transplantation
Volume 11, Issue 3, page 419, March 2011
How to Cite
Murray, J. E. (2011), Ronald Lee Herrick Memorial:June 15, 1931–December 27, 2010. American Journal of Transplantation, 11: 419. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-6143.2011.03445.x
- Issue online: 22 FEB 2011
- Version of Record online: 22 FEB 2011
I am sad, and at the same time pleased, to celebrate the life of Ronald Herrick with you. Ronald was a selfless person who at the age of 23 gladly gave up a kidney to help his twin brother, Richard, who was dying from chronic kidney disease. In doing so, he became the first person ever to donate an organ to another person, a feat that is all the more remarkable in that organ transplantation was at the time only a theoretical possibility. Nevertheless, on December 23, 1954, Ronald underwent an operation, with no anticipation of self-benefit, to save his brother Richard. I have since that day been awed by his generosity.
Ronald, in spite of Richard's protestations, never wavered from his commitment to undergo the operation, which went on as planned with no complications. The success of the procedure rejuvenated the whole field of transplantation. There were other people studying transplants around the world, but the fact that it worked so well with the identical twins was a tremendous stimulus, and arguably, a watershed event in the development of the entire field of transplantation.
Ronald gave his brother eight wonderful years that were unimaginable in the context of the mid 1950s. Indeed, Richard met his future wife, Clare, in the recovery room, and went on to have two fine children. Ronald married in 1959, taught math for 37 years, in both Massachusetts and Maine, and tended his farm for decades.
The Herricks have become part of the extended Murray family since that day in 1954. Ronald and his wife, Cynthia, have attended many milestone events with us, including the 2004 American Transplant Congress, and the Transplant Olympic Games at the Metrodome in Minneapolis to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first successful organ transplant. Ronald and I together lit the Olympic Torch. The entire event was a heartwarming display of humanity at its best.
At age 91, I am grateful to be here, able to describe the kind and humble man that was Ronald. He rarely mentioned his pioneering decision, perhaps because it was one that was self-evident for a man of his character. Nevertheless, we should never forget that he not only saved his brother Richard's life, but also paved the way for thousands of other transplant recipients throughout the world. Ronald's altruism and courage have come to define the characteristics of the organ donor community.
On this occasion, the countless members of the transplant community that have emanated from Ronald's action are saddened. We are greatly saddened, but we cherish and remember the courage of the entire Herrick family.