The 1960s

Kidney transplant

The first UK kidney transplant took place in 1960, between a set of identical twins. The operation now has a high success rate with than 3,000 transplants in the last year. However more donors are always needed

More than 50,000 people are alive today in the UK thanks to organ transplants. This wouldn't have been possible without the early work of Sir Peter Medawar using skin grafts, which lead to the discovery that living tissue can acquire immune tolerance.

In the 1960s British scientist Audrey Smith discovered how to store biological material at a low temperature, laying the foundations for the field of cryobiology. Freezing of sperm, eggs and embryos is now a key part of many IVF programmes.

L-dopa replaces the dopamine that's lost when you have Parkinson's disease, which affects 145,000 people in the UK. It's still the most common treatment 50 years after it was identified by Arvid Carlsson, earning him the Nobel Prize.

 MRC scientists began extensive trials in the 1960s to test radiotherapy as a treatment for a number of cancers. Today, around four in ten cancer patients have radiotherapy.

In 1960, surgeons in Birmingham developed and implanted the first patient-controlled variable rate heart pacemaker. Today more than 600 people per million in the UK have an implanted pacemaker.

In 1961, Herchel Smith developed an inexpensive way of producing the contraceptive pill to stop women ovulating during their menstrual cycle. This important discovery has had a huge impact since first becoming available over 50 years ago.

Around 11 million UK people (1 in 6) have hearing loss. Dr William House invented the first cochlear implant in 1961, an electronic device providing a sense of sound to those with hearing loss. Over 16,200 have been fitted in the UK.

In 1968, scientists in Cambridge achieved in vitro fertilisation of a human egg which soon led to the first ever 'test tube baby' in 1978. IVF is now routinely available in the NHS and more than 281,000 IVF babies have been born in England.

Hepatitis B affects around 180,000 people in the UK. The virus, which affects the liver, was first identified in 1965. Babies born after 1 Aug 2017 are now vaccinated against it.