When Did The First Heart Transplant Take Place?

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On December 3, 1967, in Cape Town, South Africa, surgeon Christian Barnard (1922– ) conducted the first heart transplant; the patient, a fifty-five-year-old man, lived for eighteen days after the operation. The following year Barnard performed a second transplant, which was more successful. This time the recipient lived for 563 days after the operation. In the United States, New York surgeon Adrian Kantrowitz (1918– ) performed a heart transplant four days after Barnard's first operation. However, Kantrowitz's patient lived for only a few hours after the surgery. Since then, surgeons have done heart transplants with increasingly better results. In 1997, more than 2,300 patients received new hearts in the United States and about 85 percent of these new-heart recipients survived for at least a year after the surgery.

Further Information: Darling, David. The Health Revolution: Surgery and Medicine in the Twenty-first Century. Parsippany, N.J.: Dillon Press, 1996; Nova Online. Cut to the Heart: Pioneers of Heart Surgery. [Online] Available http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/heart/pioneers.html, November 6, 2000.