The Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) is celebrating a special milestone this year – the 60th anniversary of the first successful cadaver-kidney transplant in Australia. Our Nephrology Department, guests and media marked the milestone during DonateLife Week.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of Australia’s first successful cadaver-kidney transplant – a milestone moment that occurred at the RMH.

The 1963 operation was a monumental occasion, with the recipient living for 62 days post-transplant.

Today, the RMH conducts about 120 kidney transplants a year with most recipients expected to live a long, happy and normal life.

It’s the perfect time to celebrate how far our service has come during DonateLife Week, which runs from 23 to 30 July.

We were joined at our Hospital this week by Ms Sarah Ewing – the daughter of Professor Maurice Ewing who performed the first transplant back in 1963.

Our Director of Nephrology, Professor Nigel Toussaint, along with DonateLife Victoria Medical Director Dr Rohit D’Costa and recent recipient Aaron Alsop, spoke about the importance of having a conversation with loved ones about organ donation.

Meanwhile Sarah recalled growing up as the daughter of a surgeon, and how proud she was of her father and his achievements.

“[Dad] felt a very keen responsibility to the wider community and advocated for greater public education about the pressing medical issues of the day,” Sarah said.

“And I’m certain he would have been absolutely delighted at this occasion, 60 years on. Our family is very proud of his contribution to this space.”

Sarah Ewing
Ms Sarah Ewing is the daughter of Professor Maurice Ewing who, in 1963, performed the first successful cadaver-kidney transplant in Australia.

For Aaron, the gratitude he feels for receiving the gift of “life” is hard to put into words.

The father-of-two was born with a genetic condition called polycystic kidney disease and has known he would need a kidney transplant since the age of 13.

His kidney function declined in recent years, meaning Aaron was put on dialysis and added to the transplant wait-list.

In the meantime, six of his friends, including Aaron’s sister-in-law, were tested to see if they could donate a kidney, but to no avail.

“Then one day, at 2 o’clock in the morning we got the call. It was quite amazing, I just started shaking,” he said.

Aaron is forever grateful for the transplant, conducted here at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, and his new lease on life.

“Thank you doesn’t seem enough. How do you say thank you for such a thankless gift?” he said.

Aaron urged families to “have the conversation around the dinner table” about organ donation.

Register to become an organ donor and help change the lives of people just like Aaron. Registration takes less than a minute via the DonateLife website.

Mobile Stroke Unit with Ambulance Victoria paramedic and the RMH Stroke team
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