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First successful human heart transplant

Posted in Anniversary, Medicine on Monday, 22 November 2010

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picture, heart surgery, transplant

Surgeons performing the first successful heart transplant. Illustration by Pat Nicolle

3 December marks the anniversary of the first successful heart transplant in 1967. At Groote Schuur Hospital, in Cape Town, South Africa, a team of surgeons headed by Christiaan Barnard carried out a heart transplant on 53-year-old Louis Washkansky, a diabetic who had suffered three heart attackas which led to congestive heart failure.

During the five hour operation, Washkansky was given the heart of 24-year-old Denise Darvall, who had been fatally injured in a car accident, and, although Washkansky died 18 days later of double pneumonia due to his weakened immune system, the operation itself was a success.

picture, portrait, Professor Christiaan Barnard

Professor Christiaan Barnard. Illustration by Pat Nicolle

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