First Human Heart Transplant

About the first human heart transplant in 1967 South Africa, the new practice in medicine.


Dr. Christiaan Barnard, the 44-year-old son of a minister, and a team of 30 associates performed the 1st human heart transplant at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Capetown, South Africa. The recipient was Louis Washkansky, a 55-year-old wholesale grocer, who had suffered progressive heart failure. The donor was Denise Ann Darvall, a 25-year-old automobile accident victim. The surgery took 5 hours. Said Dr. Barnard: "My moment of truth--the moment when the enormity of it all really hit me--was just after I had taken out Washkansky's heart. I looked down and saw this empty space...." Washkansky died 18 days after the heart transplant, his new heart still strong, but his body the victim of pneumonia.

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