Christiaan BARNARD 1922 – 2001

Christiaan BARNARD

He made the first successful heart transplant from one person to another. He was born in Beaufort West, Cape at the Republic of South Africa. He graduated from medical school in 1951 and worked at Groote Schuur Hospital for a while. He proved that congenital obstruction of the small intestine during surgical assistance was due to insufficient blood supply to the fetus during pregnancy. He completed his doctoral studies at the University of Minnesota between 1956 and 1958. He returned to Groote Schuur Hospital as a cardiac and thoracic surgeon. In 1972, he became professor of surgery. He conducted many organ transplant trials, especially on dogs and chimpanzees in South Africa. In 1967, he transferred his patient Louis Waskansky’s heart to a brain-dead patient. This was a first in the world medical history. The surgery was successful, but the patient's immune system was weakened with drugs to prevent resistance to the proteins of the foreign heart. The patient died 18 days later. On the second attempt, the patient died after a year and a half. A large proportion of subsequent heart transplants failed since the rejection of the foreign tissue or organ by the body could not be solved. In 1974, he pioneered a new practice by adding a second heart to support his work without first removing a patient's unhealthy heart. Some of his important works are Surgery of Common Congenital Cardiac Malformations (with V. Schrire), One Life, The Donor, Heart Attack: You Don't Have to Die, The Second Life: Memoirs.