Tissue Transplant History

Note: The use of the word “allograft” refers to transplants between genetically different humans of the same species.

1682: The first bone transplantation was recorded.

1870: The first completely documented human tissue grafting was performed by a Swiss surgeon, Dr. Jacques Reverdin.

1905: Dr. Edward Zirm performed the first corneal transplant.

1908: Dr. Reverdin performed the first skin allograft.

1908: Dr. Eric Lexer performed the first successful knee joint transplant from a deceased donor.

1911-1912: The French surgeon, Alexis Carrel, developed methods of joining blood vessels utilizing vessels from a deceased donor that made the transplantation of organs feasible.

1937: On March 15, Bernard Fantus, director of therapeutics at the Cook County Hospital in Chicago, established the first hospital-based blood bank in the United States.

1949: The US Navy Tissue Bank was established.

1955: The initial fresh heart valve allograft was placed into the descending aorta.

1955: The first frozen venous allograft was utilized for femoral artery bypass.

1962: The first fresh heart valve was implanted into the cardiac position.

1971: The first frozen heart valve was used as an allograft.

1971: Cryopreserved  human skin allograft was introduced.

1974: Cryopreserved venous allograft was first used.

1976: The American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) was founded to facilitate the provision of transplantable tissue and cells of uniform quality in quantities sufficient to meet national needs.

1993: In December, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published the interim final rule requiring the screening and testing of tissue donors for certain transmissible diseases such as HIV and hepatitis, as well as the screening of donors for behavioral risk factors.

1997: In February, the FDA proposed a new, comprehensive approach to the regulation of human cellular and tissue-based products. Regulations would focus on three general areas:

  1. Preventing unwitting use of contaminated tissues with the potential for transmitting infectious diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis;
  2. Preventing improper handling or processing that might contaminate or damage tissues;
  3. Ensuring that clinical safety and effectiveness is demonstrated.

1997: In July, the FDA issued its final rule requiring certain infectious disease testing, donor screening, and record keeping, helping to prevent the transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis viruses through human tissue used in transplantation.

1998: In May, the FDA proposed regulations creating a new, unified system for registering establishments that manufacture human cellular and tissue-based products and for listing their products.

1999: In September, the FDA proposed that manufacturers of tissue-based products screen and test donors for relevant communicable diseases as safeguards to prevent the transmission of communicable diseases from infected donors.

2001: In January, the FDA proposed new regulations requiring manufacturers to follow current good tissue practices, which included the establishment of standard operating procedures, quality programs, record keeping standards, and procedures for tracking tissues from donor to recipient and from recipient to donor. Also, the FDA issued its final rule requiring tissue establishments to register with the agency and list their tissues and tissue-based products.

2005: Good Tissue Practice Final Rule – Effective May 25, the FDA finalized its proposed requirements for current good tissue practice for establishments that manufacture human cell, tissue, and cellular and tissue-based products. For more information, visit the FDA website: