World History 1967 Part 2

About the history of the world in 1967, revolutionary Che Geuvara executed, the first human heart transplant surgery completed.

TWO CENTURIES OF WORLD HISTORY: 1778-1978

1967

Oct. 9 Ernesto "Che" Guevara, 39, Argentine-born revolutionary, was executed without trial by Bolivian authorities for trying to foment revolution in that country. Born into a wealthy Spanish-Irish family, Guevara first became a doctor but was soon lured from his practice by politics. With Castro when he took over Havana, Che joined the new Cuban cabinet only to quit the post in 1965 in order to carry the struggle to Bolivia, which he considered ripe for revolution. He was wrong. For a year he slogged through the Bolivian wilds barely able to scrape together a small band of revolutionaries. Swimming rivers, living on hawk meat, and lurching from one government ambush to the next, Che finally was wounded and captured at Yuro Ravine. Not to be bothered with the publicity of a trial, Bolivian authorities killed Guevara, cremated his body, and scattered his ashes to the winds. Why did Che's revolution, which had worked so well for Castro in Cuba, fizzle in Bolivia? Several reasons: (1) Bolivian rebels considered Cuban Che an outsider, and Bolivian Indians trusted him even less. (2) The peasants, who had flocked to Castro, shunned Che. During his year in the bush, he had failed to recruit a single peasant. (3) Recent land reforms had parceled out small plots to local Indians. For the first time in 300 years these Bolivian natives owned the ground they worked, and they saw little reason to abandon it for a Cuban philosopher. (4) Che refused to bring the Bolivian Communist party into the leadership of the movement. If the uprising failed, Che would go down with his supremacy intact.

Dec. 3 Dr. Christiaan Barnard and a 30-man surgical team performed the first human heart transplant in South Africa. The first recipient was Louis Washkansky, a 55-year-old grocer with terminal heart disease. Barely a third of his heart functioned properly, and his condition was complicated by liver and kidney failure and diabetes. When approached about the transplant idea, he agreed at once. At that point, the Barnard crew began the search for a compatible heart and found one in Denise Ann Darvall, a 25-year-old woman who had just been run over by a car in Cape Town. As she lay near death in Groote Schuur Hospital, her father suspended his grief long enough to sign the papers authorizing the removal of her heart. Immediately, Washkansky was wheeled into the operating room to be prepared for surgery. Doctors opened his chest and waited for Miss Darvall to die. After an agonizing 18 minutes, her EKG finally fell flat, and Bernard went in for her heart. While the firm little muscle beat to the rhythms of a heart pump, Barnard cut out Washkansky's worn ticker. Then he dropped the Darvall heart into its new home. Enlarging the openings in the donor heart to match the fixtures inside Washkansky's chest, Barnard carefully stitched the organ in place. After three hours' surgery, Barnard switched off the heart pump, and Washkansky was on his own. The heartbeat was normal. The patient awoke an hour later, and within two days he was eating solid food. But the fight was far from over. Washkansky's antibodies were working overtime to purge his system of this alien, albeit life-giving, organ. To fight rejection, Barnard loaded the patient with immunosuppressant drugs. While the medication worked, it also lowered Washkansky's resistance to infection. Eighteen days after surgery, the patient died of a lung infection.

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