Mater people

You are here:

Home > About > History > Medical and social innovation

Medical and social innovation

Australia's first twin to twin transfusionA spirit of innovation has characterised the history of Mater and its founders, the Sisters of Mercy, since the Order's inception in 1831. Unlike most religious orders of the time the Sisters of Mercy broke with convention, taking their mission direct to people in need—in prisons, hospitals and homes.

Today, Mater’s endeavours in clinical medicine, patient services, teaching and research continue to transform frontiers into familiar ground. This concerted pursuit of innovation—to discover, improve, adopt, and adapt—puts Mater Health Services at the forefront of healthcare and medical science.

Today, Mater has a unique commitment to linking research and clinical care to ensure the newest developments in the laboratory are translated into patient care outcomes.

Mater also continues to walk in the footsteps of the Sisters of Mercy, through its dedication to social innovation, seeking out and finding innovative solutions for unmet needs in our community.



Queensland’s first hospital laboratory established at Mater.


Mater Public Hospital installs Queenslands first deep X-ray therapy machine to treat cancer patients. In 1930, the new unit treats 94 cancer patients by radiation therapy and a further 122 by deep X-ray.


During the acute phase of World War II, a blood transfusion service is established at Mater Children’s Hospital, a first for Brisbane. Blood collected at Mater is flown to New Guinea that same night and administered to the wounded.


Queensland’s first Neurological Department is established and eastern Australia’s first Eye Bank opens at Mater.


John Cuskelly makes history by being the first baby in Queensland to receive three blood transfusions in utero. John and his mother were Rh incompatible (when a babys Rhesus positive blood conflicts with the mother’s negative blood).


First retrieval in Queensland using former Queensland Premier, Sir Joh Bjelke-Peterson’s plane. A baby, Brad Treadwell is retrieved from Charleville weighing just 1100 grams.


Mater Children’s Hospital Development Clinic opens to care for children with long term developmental problems.


Mater goes against public and government sentiment to commence provision of social and medical services for HIV/AIDS patients.


Mater opens first private Children’s Hospital in Queensland.


Mater Children’s Hospital becomes the transplant centre of Queensland for adolescent and child renal transplants.


Australia’s first structured PATS is launched at Mater.


Mater’s Mucin research team discovered the MUC13 gene, important to colo-rectal cancer, which gained international recognition.


Professor Brian Hills announced a new asthma treatment, with the potential to revolutionise asthma management.


The QIRCH Clinic, then the only clinic of its kind in Australia, opens at Mater in conjunction with refugee advocacy groups.


Australia’s first in utero surgery to correct Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome is performed at Mater. To date, Mater Mothers’ Hospital has performed more than 50 Twin to Twin laser procedures on patients from Australasia including Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, the Northern Territory and New Zealand.


A mobile health service for homeless and indigenous people in South Brisbane, MOSH–PIT was launched by Mater in conjunction with other service providers.


Mater Private Hospital commissions its ninth operating theatre. The theatre, which was the only one of its kind in Australia, is equipped with video technology that allows surgeons to watch operations performed by visiting international specialists.


The 250 000th baby, Thomas Gray, is delivered at Mater Mothers’ Hospital.