The first successful organ transplant performed by
Dr. Eduard Konrad Zirm - December 7th 1905

Newsweek: A Century of Miraculous Organ Transplants | Newsweek Health

Dr. Eduard Zirm, an Austrian surgeon, performed the first semi-successful corneal transplant - and the first successful human organ transplant - in Moravia in 1905. Though one of the grafts failed, around 80,000 corneal transplants are now carried out every year using approximately the same procedure as Zirm's.

Celebrate the centennial anniversary of the first cornea transplant

The Eye Bank Association of America pays tribute to Dr. Zirm's milestone achievement

Centennial Celebrations in Olomouc

The memorial board on the clinic in Olomouc.

The operation room today.

On December 7, 1905 Dr. Eduard Zirm, the Chief of Medicine of the hospital in Olomouc (now in Moravia in the Czech Republic) and representative of the famous Medical School in Vienna, was able to do what had previously been impossible: He performed the first successful organ transplant*.

Dr. Zirm in the surgery in Olomouc. Family photograph.

The cornea of an 11-year-old boy who accidentally died was transplanted into the eyes of a day laborer, who was blinded by an accident while slaking lime.
The cornea did not get opaque even after the healing process. What had been thought impossible now happened: after a few hours the patient could see again and he retained his eyesight for the rest of his life.

The operation and healing were difficult at that time because without a microscope it was impossible to suture the cornea. Therefore Dr. Zirm successfully used sutures from the outside.

This milestone ended the more than a hundred years of unsuccessful attempts by eye surgeons all around the world and as a result thousands of people have had their eyesight restored. The method developed by Dr. Zirm is still the basis for the repair of corneal damage.
Derived from this historical method are the methods of transplants of hearts, kidneys and livers.


Besides his medical genius, Dr. Zirm had a very artistic side. He played the violin and in his limited spare time he was interested in the study of natural philosophy. Of particular interest is his 1937 publication of Die Welt als Fühlen. Many ideas that today are known as Emotional Intelligence are discussed here for the first time.In addition he wrote many poems and stories.

His medical writings, in addition to his literary works, convince us the Dr. Eduard Konrad Zirm was a pioneer for modern methods of eye surgery.At the jubilee lecture relative to corneal transplant, Prof. Böck, the longtime head of the second Ophthalmology Department at the University in Vienna said:

" The name of Dr. Eduard Zirm will always be connected with the great accomplishment of this medical technique. With pride the Ophthalmology Department of the University of Vienna includes him as one of its own.”

*Though the cornea is not an organ, doctors use the Greek word Organon (creation) as the term for all living parts of the body.

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