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Our history

St Thomas' ward historyWe are world famous for medical breakthroughs and innovation, and our hospitals have a long and proud history.

Our staff continue to live up to these pioneering traditions through their commitment to clinical excellence and world leading research.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity manages an extensive art collection which reflects this history, with contemporary art and design complementing the environment for our patients and visitors.

Find out more about our Charity and fundraising opportunities.

View more of our historical hospital photos.

Some of our famous firsts

  • 1818 - the first experiments in human to human blood transfusion were conducted by James Blundell, who worked at Guy's Hospital. Blundell's numerous transfusion experiments led to him being known as the "father of the operation of the transfusion." 
  • 1937 – tissue typing was invented at Guy’s. Dr Peter Gorer established for the first time that certain molecules are of major importance in recognising one animal’s tissue from another. His method of detecting these molecules formed the basis of tissue typing.
  • 1949 – Sir Harold Ridley, who pioneered artificial intraocular lens implantation after cataract surgery, performed the first implantation at St Thomas', although it was not until 1950 that he left an artificial lens permanently in place in an eye.
  • 1953 - Peter Styles invented and developed the first ever bleep system, replacing a complex system of coloured lights and bells. Bleep located doctors instantly and unobtrusively anywhere in the hospital. The ‘St Thomas’ Hospital Staff Location System is now used around the world.
  • 1967 – the first kidney transplant in the south thames region was done at Guy’s.

  • 1967 - Dame Cicely Saunders, who worked at St Thomas', founder of the first modern hospice.

  • 1970s – the Bloomfield clinic opened as a centre for child and adolescent psychiatry. It was the first purpose built unit to help children with mental illness, by recognising that the psychiatry of their illnesses can be caused by family circumstances. The Newcomen Centre opened in 1982 and was the first centre to deal holistically with children’s illness, examining how each disease contributed to the mental health of seriously disabled children, their parents and siblings.
  • 2001- we became the first NHS Trust in Europe to use the Da Vinci robot to treat skin cancers.
  • 2005 - a surgical team at Guy's performed the UK’s first live kidney transplant operation using a robot.
  • 2010 - the first three-way translocation baby was delivered.
  • 2014 - doctors at St Thomas' complete a mitral heart valve replacement on a beating heart for the first time in the world. The mitral valve helps make sure blood flows in one direction through the heart. Before this breakthrough, the valve could only be replaced with open heart surgery.
  • 2014 - experts at Guy’s and St Thomas’ are the only team in the country using the Parachute implant to help patients with severe heart failure when other medical treatments are not working.
  • 2015 - the UK’s first successful kidney transplants from an HIV-positive donor took place at Guy’s Hospital.
  • 2015 - surgeons at Guy’s and St Thomas’ pioneered the world’s first use of 3D printing to support the successful transplantation of an adult kidney into a child.
  • 2016 - surgeons at Guy’s and St Thomas’ pioneered the NHS’s first use of 3D printing to enhance the precision and accuracy of robotic cancer surgery.
  • 2018 - pioneering augmented reality system which allows experts to provide remote assistance to medical teams anywhere in the world was used for the first time during robotic prostate cancer surgery.