Ronald Lee Herrick
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PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Ronald Lee Herrick, who donated a kidney to his dying twin brother 56 years ago in what's recognized as the world's first successful organ transplant, has died of complications following heart surgery. He was 79.

Herrick died Monday at the Augusta Rehabilitation Center in Augusta, said his wife, Cynthia. He had been in deteriorating health since his October surgery, she said.

Herrick gave a kidney to his twin brother, Richard, at what is now Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. The 5 1/2-hour operation on Dec. 23, 1954, kept Herrick's brother alive for eight years and was the first successful organ transplant, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. Lead surgeon Dr. Joseph Murray went on to win a Nobel Prize.

The operation proved that transplants were possible and led to thousands of other successful kidney transplants and ultimately the transplant of other organs. Doctors had tried a handful of transplants worldwide without success up to that point, said Murray, who went on to perform another 18 transplants between identical twins.

"This operation rejuvenated the whole field of transplantation," Murray, 91, told The Associated Press in a phone interview from his home in Wellesley, Mass. "There were other people studying transplants in four or five different countries, but the fact that it worked so well with the identical twins was a tremendous stimulus."

Herrick was raised on a family farm in Rutland, Mass., where he graduated high school. He later served in the U.S. Army.

At 23, Herrick was glad to give up a kidney if it would help his brother, who was dying from chronic nephritis, an inflammation of the kidneys. Murray thought the odds of a transplanted organ being accepted would be enhanced since they were identical twins.

Before the operation, many people opposed the idea of transplanting a body organ, equating it with desecration of a body. Others felt it was unethical to operate on healthy humans, and respected editors of medical journals wrote that it was contrary to the Hippocratic Oath's vow to never do harm to anyone, Murray said.

But Herrick never wavered and the operation went on as planned with no complications. Richard Herrick met his future wife, Clare, in the recovery room, where she was a nursing supervisor.

"He was the only one in the world who could save his brother's life, so he was going to do it," said Cynthia Herrick. "There was no question about it."

Ronald and Cynthia married in 1959, and they moved to Maine in 1968. He taught math for 37 years, in both Massachusetts and Maine. He also raised cows and cut hay for decades on a small farm he bought in Mount Vernon.

In 1997, he and his wife sold their farm and moved to a house in Belgrade.

Herrick rarely mentioned the operation to people he knew, but he was known in the medical world for his pioneering role.

He and Murray marked the 50th anniversary of the operation at the National Kidney Foundation's 2004 U.S. Transplant Games in Minnesota, said foundation spokeswoman Ellie Schlam. Herrick and Murray together lit the flame to kick off the games, an Olympic-style event for athletes who have received organ transplants.

"He was a humble man. You got the sense he didn't think he'd done anything extraordinary, but that he had done what a brother would do," Schlam said. "He wasn't too impressed with himself, but he was impressive."

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press
Published in Coastal Courier on Dec. 29, 2010.
Memories & Condolences
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92 entries
June 29, 2018
I learned about Richard and Ronald's transplant story a few years ago. I am a distant "cousin" exploring my geneology and stumbled upon the amazing story. I am so proud to share this as part of my family history. My Dad was Robert Herrick. The similarities are uncanny. He loved Math but became an Architect instead of a math teacher. Patience of a saint when it came to helping me with homework. He also had a beautiful voice and sang in the church choir all his life. I was born in 1955 in Minnesota and have four sons. Two of my sons look almost identical to Richard and Robert. We are unmistakenly related. I love to share this story of my not-so-distant "uncles".
Elizabeth Herrick-Ostapiuk
April 5, 2018
So sad to hear of his passing He wand his aunt and Uncle were good friends of my dad, Charles Jobes from Northboro, MA He was my math/science teacher in junior high school. I did a sketch portrate of him at that time. Don't ever know if he liked it?
He sure was a blessing to his brother and his family. I have been blessed to have known him and never forgot him.

sincerely, Judith (Jobes) Emmons

PS, also knew his Aunt and Uncle moved to Barre, MA and My husband and I did also after we were married. in 1965
Judith (Jobes) Emmons
April 3, 2013
I am touched by reading about Ronald, who ventured into an unknown field at that time. His selfless love and determination to do what is right has only inspired me to trust my doctors as I am about to donate my kidney to my wife.
Ronald O'Brien
November 26, 2012
"The greatest joy on earth is to LOVE and BE LOVED" and Loving your brother, sister, Mother, Father is saintly.
Susan Thurwachter
January 9, 2011
The One Miracle Celebration of Life Foundation sends its condolences. May God Bless you and your family.
Mike Jones
January 5, 2011
I am waiting for a kidney transplant myself. If not for folks like Ronald, I wouldn't even have the hope. God bless you for your courage and compassion. I pray peace upon your family at your passing.
Randal Phillips
January 5, 2011
I am grateful for Ron Herrick's great love and bravery in becoming the world's first successful kidney transplant donor. Two of my daughters have heart transplants. The pioneers in organ transplantation, like Ron, helped "pay it forward" so my girls are alive today.
Susan Friesen
January 4, 2011
I am so blessed to have been given a second chance from a kidney transplant that I recieved in 1993. These past 18 years have given me the chance to raise my children, go back to work and live a normal life. Thank you Mr. Herrick for your gift to your sibling and the beginning of many blessings that have come from this gesture of yours.
Kathy Engstrom
January 4, 2011
May GOD provide peace and solace during this difficult time. Mr. Herrick has paid forward. I also received a kidney from a fellow Army friend which may have not been possible without the courage of Mr. Herrick. We thank God for the celebration of his life.
Jeff Harris
January 3, 2011
January 3, 2011
May God comfort and strengthen the family of Mr. Herrick during this time. I am a kidney recipient who received a kidney from a donor in 2009. Mr. Herrick leaves a beautiful legacy; which will touch many lives for generations to come. I will keep your family in my prayers!
Angela Cox
January 2, 2011
May Mr. Herrick find peace in being rejoined with his late brother.

Our family has known of Ronald Lee Herrick for many years. His courageous and loving act happened when I had just turned one-years old. That act would eventually lead to my Uncle receiving a renal transplant at 58 and living for 9 additional years. It then lead to my receiving a Living-Related-Donor renal transplant from my 19-year-old son 13 and 1/2 years ago. I have lived to see the grandchildren I would have missed. Thank you.
Joel Donahue
January 2, 2011
Bless you for being so brave. The past years with my sister have been precious to me and it would not have been possible without your bravery.
L Buttars
January 2, 2011
Thank you so much for being my eigth grade math teacher. You made math accessible for me. I so hope your genes have been passed on to another generation for teaching.
January 2, 2011
Richard Herrick
January 2, 2011
I and my siblings have wonderful memories of Mr and Mrs Herrick from our childhood when we would see them up at Flying Pond. I remember their cozy house filled with books. He was warm, kind and funny and never talked down to children. I'm sure he was a wonderful teacher, and I know he was an exceptional man.
Margaret G
January 2, 2011
Mr. Herrick, what a true hero and guardian angel you have been to many who received the gift of life. My husband was blessed with a kidney transplant 5 1/2 years ago. It is because of your strength and persistance, that my husband is able to live a normal life without dialysis. Thank you for your courage and proving to the medical community that a transplant can save a life.
To the Herrick's family, I give my sincere condolences on the loss of your loved one. May it help you to know that you have a guardian angel watching over you now.
My husband and I have been promoting organ donation ever since he had the transplant. We have also started a support group for those waiting for the gift of life, so that we can share stories like Mr. Herrick's to help others accept that they too can have a transplant and live a normal life again.
May Mr. Herrick forever be a blessing!!
Debby Kupfer-Garcia
January 1, 2011
Mr Herrick was my science teacher in eighth grade in Northboro MA. I remember him as being so patient--never raised his voice--and had a quiet sense of humor as well--my condolences to his family and close friends.
Karen Diez Constantino
January 1, 2011
I also donated a kidney to my sister in 1983 and it was an awesome expeirience. May God Bless you all S. Rock
sally Rock
January 1, 2011
What an angel to donate an organ knowing that it might not work. I bet he still knew it was not a waste though.
megan johnson
January 1, 2011
Although I don't know you, you are my hero. Your unselfish courage led to a remarkable advance in medical science. The love you had for your brother helped pave the way for people like me who needed a life saving transplant. I received a heart in April, 2009.

To the family of Mr. Herrick, may your spirits be lifted knowing that your loved one helped so many people around the world. Rest in peace, Mr. Herrick.
B. Cooper
January 1, 2011
To The Family of Ron Herrick:
I was deeply saddened to hear the news of your loss today from a former classmate. Mr. Herrick was a fine teacher (Winthop School system)and I am glad he touched my life with his teaching skills. I know he will be deeply missed by all. You are all in my prayers during this time of loss!!
Karen Hayford Tibbetts
January 1, 2011
this is a very moving story. I recieved a kidney transplant in Jan of 2010 I was 47 at that time. I amnow 48 and doing so well a year later.I thank this special person from the bo9ttom of my heart for starting organ donation. Love to his family at this time. God Bless all of you. Robin Massachusetts.
Robin Lataille
January 1, 2011
May God Bless you Mr. Herrick, my wife received a kidney from her sister 11 years ago this May 18th. I can never be greatful enough for people like you. May you rest in peace for all the people you have helped.
Gary Lask
January 1, 2011
"Know ye that a prince and a great man hath fallen this day."
Tom Stone
January 1, 2011
God Bless You Sir! I had a transplant 23 years ago thanks to you. Know that the world is a much better place because of you and your bravery. I owe you my life and did not even know you. With sincere sympathy to the family and a heart felt thank you forever.
January 1, 2011
Thank you Mr. Herrick for your courage. You made it possible for my father to receive my kidney in 1996.
Anne Masterson
January 1, 2011
Thank you, Ronald Lee Herrick. As I sit here paging through all of the entries, I'm wiping the tears away. We didn't know you, your family, or the doctor that helped to save your brother's life. We did read about your story before my husband had his bi-lateral lung transplant almost 5 yrs. ago. Thank you for your persistence. You helped to change people's minds about ALL transplants, and helped many people go on to live better lives. May you live on in peace with all your loved ones in Heaven.
December 31, 2010
Mr. Herrick was a great guy! He was my 8th grade math teacher 38 years ago at Winthrop Jr. High. One of the best math teachers ever because he really enjoyed what he was doing and never gave up on our class of goofy teenagers. He always brought his smile to class. He respected us and that made all the difference. May the wonderful memories you hold dear comfort you always. His spirit lives on.
Betsy Palleschi Rowe
December 31, 2010
God Bless and thank you for taking that first step towards transplants. I have several friends that have had transplants thanks to you. Rest in Peace knowing how many you have helped and will continue to help because of you.
December 31, 2010
Mr. & Mrs Herrick were wonderful teachers at Northborough Jr High.
God bless you. William J. McShane Jr.
William McShane Jr.
December 31, 2010
I met Ron in Minneapolis at the National Kidney Foundation Transplant Games where we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first successful kidney transplantation...Ron's donation to his brother. My kidney recipient and I were happy to meet Ron and hear his wonderful story. God bless.
-Nancy Brown, DuBois, PA
December 31, 2010
Rest in peace, Uncle Ron.
Laurie Pelletier
December 31, 2010
My deepest condolences to Mrs. Herrick and the Herrick family. I too was an 8th grade math and science student of Mr Herrick's as well as a math student in my junior year in high school.
Mr Herrick was a gentle giant. He was humble, honest and above all a great humanitarian.
I talked to Mr. Herrick on the phone several years ago after I had seen an article about him in the newspaper. It was a great conversation and one I'll never forget. Thank you Mr. H. for the lessons you taught me as a teen for they were in part what has made me who I am as adult.
God bless you Mr. Herrick and rest in peace.
Patricia Berberian Ordway
December 31, 2010
Because of the bravery and pioneering spirit of the Herrick Brothers, I was able to donate a kidney to my sister this year. My sympathy to your family at this difficult time.
Janet Subers
December 30, 2010
May you find comfort in your fond memories of him and may the God who gives peace be with you in your time of grief.
December 30, 2010
Dear Cinny--My mom is Connie Washburn Tynan. She's talked about you and your dear husband for years. Our hearts and prayers are with you and your family. Your husband Ronnie sounds like a wonderful man, I wish I could have met him. My mom said he was a doll at the High School Reunion, as always. I've been an organ donor for years -- I think that's where Ronnie was an inspiration, to me and millions around the world. Hugs and love to you and your family. Nancy Tynan Evanko xoxoxo
Nancy Tynan
December 30, 2010
To my dear friend, my heart is with you. Love Connie
Connie Washburn Tynan
December 30, 2010
So sad to hear of Mr. Herrick's passing. He was my Math professor for a few classes at UMA. He spoke of his brother and the transplant during a tutoring session. He was a great access to UMA and a wonderful person. Condolences to your family at this difficult time. May the memories help ease the pain.
Kristen Duplessis
December 30, 2010
To the Herrick family
My what a blessed soul he was to be the brave one for the kidney transplant for his brother. May your family be comforted for the loss of Ronald. Many prayers to your family.
Anita Sanchez
December 30, 2010
To the family of Ronald Lee Herrick,

Our family has benefited from Mr. Herricks' willingness to be a pioneer and a wonderful brother. Many prayers and gratitude from my family to yours.

The Beanders' (recipient kidney transplant family)
Alvah Beander
December 30, 2010
What a wonderful man he sounds to have been. God rest his soul and bless his wife and family. One day they will all be reunited on the other side.
Morgan McGrath
December 30, 2010
Mr. Herrick's daring action was that of a saint! I am able to write this because 12 years ago I received a new liver after a stranger-donor's family consented. It's so important to designate yourself as a donor and have your family's consent. Mr. Herrick and Dr. Murray opened an entirely new field of medicine. God rewards such saints !

James E. Bradley, Allentown, PA
James Bradley
December 30, 2010
To the Herrick family and friends...... We would like to offer a message of comfort and hope to the family , we are truly sorry for the famiy's loss , have faith in the promise God made of better days to come when we won't have to experience such pain and suffering ever again . Psalms 37:10,11,29 are very encourging and comforting ,we offer our deepest condolence
December 30, 2010
December 30, 2010
Put Mr. Herrick's name with those of other brave pioneers. He for sure had the right stuff! Martha Kerr Bountiful, Utah
December 30, 2010
To Herrick family and friends. May God who promises to be with those who are broken at heart, and those who are crushed in spirit he saves; give you all the needed strength to go from one day to the next.- Psalm 51:17
December 30, 2010
God bless Mr. Herrick and his family. Because of him, many others are able to live.
December 30, 2010
Thank you to Mr. Herrick for his love to his brother and donation of kidney. Because of this and the further transplants, my brother in law recently received a kidney and prancreas. Thank you again Mr. Herrick and God bless to the rest of the family.
T Bailey
December 30, 2010
M condolences To the family of Ronald Lee Herrick, a brave man who will lie on in the lives of all transplant recipients.
John Galvin
December 30, 2010
I remember Mr. Herrick as my 8th grade science teacher in Northborough. It must have been 1959 or 1960. He taught his students an important lesson in honesty. Many people in our class, me included, plagerized an assigned science report. Mr. Herrick had each of us write an essay, in class, about our report topic. He based our grade, in part, on how much of the plagerized material we retained. The learning was the goal.

I have thought of Mr. Herrick many times over the years, particularly when I became a high school math teacher myself. I remember him as a quiet presence.

I am very sorry to learn of his passing and his recent poor health. My condolences to his family.
Virginia Judson Iannini
December 30, 2010
To The Herrick Family,
Thank you for your initiative in helping to save the lives of many people. Ronald was one of the first pioneers (donor) in kidney transplant and MAY HIS SOUL REST IN PEACE. God Bless you!
Karen Davis
December 30, 2010
My sincere condolences to the Herrick family. I had the pleasure of meeting both Mr. Herrick and Dr. Murray at our 2004 Transplant Games in Minnesota. My kidney transplant (from a non-related, deceased donor angel) has worked perfectly for 33 1/2 years and is still going strong, thanks in part to his wonderful contribution so many years ago that paved the way for countless others to enjoy life. Thank you Mr. Herrick and may God hold you close in his arms.
Lori Brown
December 30, 2010
Mike Sawyer
December 30, 2010
As one of Mr (and for that matter, Mrs) Herrick's former students at Elwood S. Fraser Junior High in Northborough, Mass I would express my sympathy to the family and admiration for this man. The kidney transplant story is not his only legacy. From his long teaching career there are thousands of us who were once his students. His teacher's legacy is also special.
K. McShane, Maine
December 30, 2010
December 30, 2010
God bless this brave and selfless man, Mr. Ronald Lee Herrick, who opened the door for so many others afterward. Condolences to his family.
George Lyons
December 30, 2010
To the the family of Ronald Herrick - May God give you peace and comfort through his word and the Lord Jesus Christ during this time of sorrow, I know that Ronald will be missed by many.
R Golay
December 30, 2010
Barbara Allen
December 29, 2010
I was looking for another name in the online obituaries, and I came across Mr. Herrick's story. My dad gave me one of his kidneys, and this past May we celebrated the 10th anniversary of my transplant! Thanks to Mr. Herrick's bravery and character so long ago, I am very healthy now and was able to have a successful pregnancy of a healthy baby girl--she'll turn 5 early next year. I am extremely grateful, to you, Mr. Herrick. God bless you.
December 29, 2010
What a truely great man , my husband had a kidney transplant in 1992 and it lasted14 years ( Cadavor donor ) But thanks to mr Herrick ,that too became possible, We are now hoping for a kidney for my daughter, Please keep her in prayers and GOD bless your family . titusville, fla,
Althea Gallion
December 29, 2010
God used you to bless a multitude of lives. My prayers are with the Herrick family and may God bless you. Rest in peace...
December 29, 2010
Deepest sympathy to you all in the loss of your loved one. It was an honor to know him, and he and my Dad are together now, talking 'farm stuff'. May he rest in peace, and may his family find comfort and solace in the wonderful memories of happy times that you shared.
Lynn & Lucille
December 29, 2010
My deepest condolences to the Herrick
family. My sister had a lung transplant that extended her life for several years.
It would not have been possible without Mr. Herrick. His contribution to the medical world has saved countless lives.
The world mourns his passing.
Thank you Mr. Herrick
Kathy Van Allen
December 29, 2010
The world has lost an incredable man. The countless lives he has saved is imeasurable. Not only kidney transplants but that opened the gates for heart, liver, lung and all other transplants, all over the world. God has a special place for you in Heaven.
December 29, 2010
Mr. Herrick, May God hold you gently in his arms. Thanks for your role in the world of transplants. It is because of kind, generous people like you that I was able to receive the gift of life almost seven years ago. Thank you!
Lyda Kroening (Liver transplant recipient 1-10-2004)
Lyda Kroening
December 29, 2010
What a wonderful man who opened the door for so many, including my husband; thanks to his brother as well. :) God Bless him and his family.
December 29, 2010
December 29, 2010

Scott-Betsey, and Cynthia :

We were sorry to hear about Ron.
Our thoughts will be with you on
Glenn/Loraine Thurston,
Spring Hill, FL
December 29, 2010
Cynthia - I am so sorry to learn of Ron's passing. I know you will miss him terribly. He certainly did wonderful things with his life and you can be so proud of that. My deepest sympathy -
Penny Pray
December 29, 2010
What a remarkable story! I too had a kidney transplant in Jan. 1999 and still going strong thanks to the pioneers that paved the way before to make it possible!
John Mascaro
December 29, 2010
Mrs. Herrick and Family:
So sorry to see that Mr. Herrick has passed away. He was my 8th grade math teacher in Winthrop Junior High. He was one of my favorite teachers. My thoughts and prayers are with you all at this most difficult time.

Lynn Rice Demo
Lynn Demo
December 29, 2010
kristen LaBossiere
December 29, 2010
Thank you Mr.Herrick for your generosity. I am a 5 year transplant patient and I live every day with gratitude. It would not have been possible without you. Rest in peace.
Richard Meredith
December 29, 2010
I am so sorry to hear of Mr Herrick's passing. He was one of my favorite teachers!!!

~ Pam (Drapeau) Holley
Pam Holley
December 29, 2010
Mr. Herrick was my 6th grade teacher. I have fond memories of his classroom and how dedicated he was to all of his students. I particularly remember his spelling bee's and his drawer full of cough drops that we could help ourselves to whenever there was a need.

Blessings to his family and friends and you have my deepest sympathies.

Becky Schmelzer
Winthrop, ME
Becky Schmelzer
December 29, 2010
I thank God for you Mr. Herrick. Because of your heroic first step, of doing "what a brother would do", transplant surgeons learned to harvest a kidney from me and implant it into my beautiful sister Georgia. That was five years ago, five long, miraculous years of life...hers and mine. May you rejoice in heaven with your brother, and your family here find comfort in wonderful memories.

One Kidney - One Love...

Thank you...
Rae Lyn Morris
December 29, 2010
Our condolences
to Ronald'
GodBe with
you As now a
Just Begins into
ones spiritual life~
M`Victoria&Andrew VZj
December 29, 2010
My Dear Cynthia, Ron was a pioneer, a very brave man and the world owes him so much. See what transplant success has happened to so many others because of him. This is a very sad time in the Herrick family and you will miss him terribly, I know. I am here if you need me, just call.
Ann Thomas
December 29, 2010
Having been the recipient of a kidney transplant in February of 2007, I am grateful to Mr. Herrick's for his steadfastness when others opposed his decision to donate. I would like to extend my sympathy to Mrs. Herrick and family. Your husband has shown the way to selflessness and true generosity. Rene Ravenelle, East Brookfield, MA
Rene Ravenelle
December 29, 2010
It is because of Mr. Herrick (and Dr. Murray) that doctors would eventually perform other transplants~including my own heart/double lung transplant 14.5 years ago. God bless you Ronald Herrick. You're now among the angels and reunited with your brother.
Kimberly Jacques
December 29, 2010
God Bless You Mr. Herrick. You are a true humanitarian.

December 29, 2010
December 29, 2010
R.I.P. Sir, a true Hero.
December 29, 2010
It is because of Ronald's generosity and selfless act that day that lead me to get a kidney from my father. He will always be remembered as a hero. My sympathy goes out to you and your family.
Nicole McKenna
December 29, 2010
My sympathies to all of Ron's family. He was a courageous and inspiring man....I met him in Minneapolis at the 2004 Transplant Games when I was almost 2 years post donation....and knowing how healthy he was gave me a great feeling about what I had done. There is a special place in Heaven for him!
Linda Turner
December 29, 2010
Aunt Cinnie,

So sorry to hear about the passing of Ron. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
Steven Barnes and Family
December 29, 2010
Mrs. Herrick, sorry to hear about Ron's passing. I only met him once @ the US Transplant Games, but he was such a hero to us transplant recipients, even though he didn't think he was. I had a heart transplant in 1992 & a kidney from my wife Kathleen in 2007. If it wasn't for him being the first living Donor, people like me wouldn't be here. May he rest in Peace, I am sure God has special plans for him.
Jim Kane
December 29, 2010
Dear Aunt Cyn,
I am so sorry to hear the news of Ron's passing. Our hearts go out to you during this time.
We love you,
Laurie & family
Laurie Pelletier
December 29, 2010
Thank you Ronald Herrick for being brave enough to be the first organ donor. Your legacy lives on in every transplant that has happened since yours. Our condolences to your family but you are a hero in our eyes...
A grateful organ recipient (Catherine La Forza and Chuck 2.0 Landau, heart recipient October 2002)
December 29, 2010
I'm so sorry to hear of Ron's passing. What a wonderful man he was! It was my great pleasure and honor to have known him. My condolences to Cynthia and family.
Ellen Souviney
December 29, 2010
I had the pleasure to meet Ron and Cynthia as part of the 50th anniversary of his ground breaking gift. Ron was always unassuming, just a regular person, never considering himself to be a pioneer. My deepest sympathies to Ron's family during this difficult time.
Karen Knox
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