World’s First heart transplant surgery

first heart transplant surgery
Louis Washkansky, image courtsey:science museum

On 3 December 1967, South African doctor, Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the first heart transplant surgery at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. It was a revolution in the medical history, because at that time the medical equipments and facilities were not as good as they are today. And with those equipments Dr. Barnard performed the first heart transplant surgery and succeeded. For this work, his name has been written in the golden letters in the medical history.

first heart transplant surgery
Dr. Christiaan Barnard, image courtsey:wikipedia

The patient’s name was Louis Washkansky. He was 50 year old with a debilitating heart condition. And the donor was Denise Darvall, a young woman who faced the car accident on Dec 2, 1967 and declared brain-dead after suffering serious brain damage. Her father, Edward Darvall agreed to donate his daughter’s heart and kidneys. Because of his decision, Dr. Barnard got the privilege to perform the first heart transplant surgery. The operation started at mid night and completed on the next morning at around 6 AM.

After Washkansky’s surgery, he was given drugs to suppress his immune system and prevent his body from rejecting the transplanted heart. These drugs also left him Susceptible to sickness and 18 days later, he died from double pneumonia. But, his new heart had functioned normally until his death.

In 1970s, the development of better anti-rejection drugs made transplantation more livable. Today, worldwide about 3000 heart transplant surgery performed annually. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angles, California, is the largest heart transplant center in the world. But, to perform a successful transplant surgery finding appropriate donors is extremely difficult.



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