History of clinical intestinal transplantation

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The intestines have been considered the “forbidden organ” for years, and intestinal failure became the last organ failure recognized as such in the medical field. The impossibility of providing adequate nutritional support, turned these patients into recipients of just palliative comfort. In the 1960’s, parenteral nutrition appeared as the most reasonable replacement therapy, but the initial success obtained with clinical kidney, heart, liver, lung and pancreas transplantation served as background to explore intestinal transplantation. The first clinical report of an isolated intestinal transplant was done by Richard Lillihei in 1967; in 1983, Thomas Starzl, performed the first multi visceral transplant, and in 1990, David Grant performed the first combined liver-intestinal transplant in an adult recipient in Canada. Since then, advances in immunosuppressive therapies and surgical innovations have allowed not only a continuous increase in indications, but also a worldwide application of all procedures, bringing clinical intestinal transplantation to reality. In this historical account, the most important contributions have been summarized, thus describing the steady progress, expansion and novelties developed over the last 56 years, since the first attempt. Clinical intestinal transplantation remains a complex and evolving field; ongoing research and technological advancements will continue shaping its future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110788
JournalHuman Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Failure
  • History
  • Intestine
  • Multivisceral
  • Transplantation


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