US organ transplant pioneer Murray dies

Updated 28 November 2012
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US organ transplant pioneer Murray dies

WASHINGTON: Dr. Joseph Murray, who won the Nobel Prize for performing the first-ever successful organ transplant, died late Monday at the age of 93, according to the Boston Globe. After suffering a stroke Thursday, Murray passed away at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he had performed the landmark kidney transplant on Ronald and Richard Herrick on Dec. 23, 1954, the newspaper reported.
The hospital was not immediately able to confirm the report. Murray traced his interest in the emerging science of transplants to the three years he spent on the surgical ward of an army hospital in Pennsylvania during World War II.
There surgeons would often treat severely burned soldiers with skin grafts from cadavers as a temporary measure.
“The slow rejection of the foreign skin grafts fascinated me. How could the host distinguish another person’s skin from his own?” Murray would later write in an autobiographical essay published by the Nobel committee. Murray learned that the chief plastic surgeon, Colonel James Brown, had earlier carried out a skin graft on identical twins in which the recipient’s body had accepted the foreign tissue rather than instinctively attacking it.
“This was the impetus to my study of organ transplantation,” Murray wrote. The prospect of transplanting organs from one living patient to another was controversial from the beginning, with critics viewing it as a violation of nature that endangered both the donor and the recipient.
But the public started coming around to the procedure after Murray’s historic operation in 1954, when he transplanted a kidney from Ronald Herrick to his identical twin brother Richard.
In those eight years, Herrick married his post-operative nurse, had two children and toasted his brother for “the extra drink,” the Globe reported. Ronald Herrick only passed away in 2010.
In the 1960s Murray helped to develop the drug Imuran, which suppressed the immune system to allow patients to accept transplants from unrelated donors.
He won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1990, sharing the honor with E. Donnall Thomas, who pioneered bone marrow transplants.
Their discoveries have been used to cure or provide a decent life for tens of thousands of severely ill patients.


Murray later focused on plastic surgery, specifically the repair of facial defects in children. He led Brigham’s plastic surgery department for almost four decades and the division at Children’s Hospital Medical Center from 1972 to 1985, according to the Globe.
“My life as a surgeon-scientist, combining humanity and science, has been fantastically rewarding,” Murray wrote in the Nobel autobiography.
“In our daily patients we witness human nature in the raw — fear, despair, courage, understanding, hope, resignation, heroism. If alert, we can detect new problems to solve, new paths to investigate.”
Murray is survived by his wife, three sons, three daughters and 18 grandchildren, the Globe said.


In emotional reunion, Spielberg revisits ‘Schindler’s List’

Updated 27 April 2018
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In emotional reunion, Spielberg revisits ‘Schindler’s List’

  • It was the first time Steven Spielberg had watched “Schindler’s List” with an audience since it was released in 1993
  • Spielberg initially shied away from “Schindler’s List,” scripted by Steven Zaillian and based on Thomas Keneally’s novel “Schindler’s Arkansas”

NEW YORK: Steven Spielberg says no film has affected him the way “Schindler’s List” did.
Spielberg, Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley and others reunited for a 25th anniversary screening of “Schindler’s List” at the Tribeca Film Festival on Thursday, in an evening that had obvious meaning to Spielberg and the hushed, awed crowd that packed New York’s Beacon Theater. In a Q&A following the film, Spielberg said it was the first time he had watched “Schindler’s List” with an audience since it was released in 1993.
“I have never felt since ‘Schindler’s List’ the kind of pride and satisfaction and sense of real, meaningful accomplishment — I haven’t felt that in any film post-’Schindler’s List,’” Spielberg said.
The reunion was a chance for Spielberg and the cast to reflect on the singular experience of making an acknowledged masterwork that time has done little to dull the horror of, nor its necessity. “It feels like five years ago,” Spielberg said of making the film.
Spielberg shot the film in Krakow, Poland, in black-and-white and without storyboards, instead often using hand-held cameras to create a more documentary-like realism. Neeson remembered Spielberg running with a camera and, on the fly, directing him and Kingsley down Krakow streets. “It was exciting. It was dangerous and unforgettable,” Neeson said.
“Schindler’s List,” made for just $22 million (Spielberg declined a pay check), grossed $321 million worldwide and won seven Academy Awards, including best picture and best director. It also did much to educate the American public on the Holocaust. After the film, Spielberg established the Shoah Foundation, which took the testimony of 52,000 Holocaust survivors.
More needs to be done for Holocaust education, Spielberg said: “It’s not a pre-requisite to graduate high school, as it should be. It should be part of the social science, social studies curriculum in every public high school in this country.”
Making “Schindler’s List” was a profound, emotional and fraught experience for many of those involved. Kingsley recalled confronting a man for anti-Semitism during production. Spielberg said swastikas were sometimes painted overnight. Recreating scenes like those in the Krakow ghetto and at Auschwitz were, Spielberg said, very difficult for most of those involved. Two young Israeli actors, he said, had breakdowns after shooting a shower scene at the concentration camp.
“That aesthetic distance we always talk about between audience and experience? That was gone. And that was trauma,” said Spielberg. “There was trauma everywhere. And we captured the trauma. You can’t fake that. (The scene) where everyone takes off their clothes was probably the most traumatic day of my entire career — having to see what it meant to strip down to nothing and then completely imagine this could be your last day on earth.
“There were whole sections that go beyond anything I’ve ever experienced or seen people in front of the camera experience,” the 71-year-old filmmaker added.
Spielberg actually released two movies in 1993. “Jurassic Park” came out in June, and “Schindler’s List” followed in November. While he was shooting in Poland, Spielberg made several weekly satellite phone calls with the special effects house Industrial Light & Magic to go over Tyrannosaurus Rex shots — a distraction he abhorred.
“It built a tremendous amount of anger and resentment that I had to do this, that I actually had to go from what you experienced to dinosaurs chasing jeeps,” Spielberg told the audience. “I was very grateful later in June, though. But until then, it was a burden. This was all I cared about.”
“Schindler’s List” was a redefining film for Spielberg, who up until then was mostly considered an “entertainer,” associated with fantasy and escapism. Since, he has largely gravitated toward more dramatic and historical material like “Amistad,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Munich,” “Lincoln” and last year’s “The Post.”
But Spielberg initially shied away from “Schindler’s List,” scripted by Steven Zaillian and based on Thomas Keneally’s novel “Schindler’s Arkansas”. He urged Roman Polanski, whose mother was killed at Auschwitz, to make it. Martin Scorsese was once attached to direct.
Yet the making of “Schindler’s List” prompted an awakening for Spielberg, who has said his “Jewish life came pouring back into my heart.” On Thursday, the director said he wanted to make the film about “the banality of the deepest evil” and “stay on the march to murder, itself.”
To keep his sanity while shooting in Poland, he watched “Saturday Night Live” on Betamax and relied on weekly calls from Robin Williams.
“He would call me on schedule and he would do 15 minutes of stand-up on the phone,” said Spielberg. “I would laugh hysterically because I had to release so much. But the way Robin is on the telephone, he would always hang up on you on the loudest, best laugh you’d give him.”