First Human Heart Transplant; what went wrong

The first heart transplant performed in human was done in 1967, December 3rd. The recipient was Louis Washkansky while Denise Darvall, a 25-year-old woman (who was fatally injured in a car accident) was the donor. The surgery was carried out at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa.

Christiaan Neethling Barnard (1922-2001), the man who performed the surgery was a South African cardiac surgeon. He was born in Beaufort West, Cape Province, Barnard studied medicine and practised for several years in his native South Africa before migrating to the United State for further studies.

The technique Barnard employed had been initially developed by a group of American researchers in the 1950s. It was successfully used for heart transplant in dogs. It was on this principle he performed the surgery.

The sugery was a success, as the heart harvested worked quite well in the recipient. The problem was simply the immune suppressant used. This drug left the body of the recipient vulnerable. Which led to his death 18days after from pneumonia.

Barnard performed numerous human to human heart transplant afterward. Many had additional years to their year. The major problem is getting the compactible donor.

Barnard died of an Asthma attack in year 2001 at the age of 78. He pioneered a good course and still known for his contribution to medical practice.

Written by Olawale Sogbesan

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