Although renal transplantation was a therapeutic reality in Norway from 1969, organ transplantation was largely regarded as experimental surgery from its introduction in the early 1950s until the licensing of ciclosporin in 1982. After the first successful renal transplantation in 1954, 13 years elapsed before a liver and a heart were successfully transplanted, both in 1967. Inspired by the pioneers Thomas Starzl in Denver, Colorado, and Roy Yorke Calne in Cambridge, early in 1968 Snorre Aune, Gunnar Schistad and Andreas Skulberg began experimental studies on pigs at Ullevål Hospital to develop a surgical technique for liver transplantation. They collaborated with a team at Rikshospitalet led by Audun Flatmark and performed transplantations there every other week, and every other week at Ullevål. It took over one year of weekly animal experiments before the first transplanted pig survived. The first three transplantations on humans in Norway were performed at Ward 2, Ullevål Hospital in 1969, 1970 and 1972. The first patient died shortly after surgery, the second after 24 days, the third 54 days after transplantation. Snorre Aune, Gunnar Schistad and Andreas Skulberg were awarded the Michael Skielderup gold medal in 1972 for this pioneering work. The article is based on the author's own experience as an assistant surgeon and junior partner in the animal experiments and the first human liver transplantations in Norway, and a survey of relevant publications.
Erratum In: Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 2016 Jan 26;136(2):10626813813