Yes­ter­day’s Papers

The first suc­cess­ful heart trans­plant ....

History Revealed - - CONTENTS -

Thirty men and women, led by Dr Chris­ti­aan Barnard, filed into an op­er­at­ing the­atre in Groote Schuur Hos­pi­tal, Cape Town, South Africa, just af­ter the clock struck mid­night. Their task was a com­plex and life-chang­ing one: to give 53-year-old green­gro­cer Louis Washkan­sky a new heart.

The pa­tient had suf­fered three car­diac ar­rests, and un­less a donor could be found, Washkan­sky’s death was only a mat­ter of a time. Agree­ing to par­tic­i­pate in the in­cred­i­bly risky surgery, the sur­geons found a healthy heart from a 25-year-old woman named Denise Dar­vall, who had trag­i­cally been hit by a car. Her fa­ther agreed to the do­na­tion, be­liev­ing it was what his kind­hearted daugh­ter would have wanted.

Washkan­sky was wheeled into the Charles Saint The­atre and put un­der the knife. As he lay un­con­scious, Barnard and his team worked tire­lessly to trans­plant the or­gan into its new home. Just af­ter 6am, the heart was elec­tri­cally shocked back into life, and Washkan­sky woke a few hours later.

Mirac­u­lously, the op­er­a­tion had worked. The heart was work­ing as ex­pected, and the pa­tient was able to walk and speak, so things were look­ing up. How­ever, the drugs he was pre­scribed af­ter the op­er­a­tion (to en­sure his body would not re­ject the new heart) weak­ened his im­mune sys­tem dras­ti­cally. Eigh­teen days af­ter the op­er­a­tion, Washkan­sky con­tracted pneu­mo­nia and died.

Nev­er­the­less, the pro­ce­dure was deemed a suc­cess, de­spite Barnard claim­ing he “did not think it was a great event”. He was seen as a pioneer, and soon he was per­form­ing the pro­ce­dure on many more pa­tients, sav­ing lives as medicine im­proved.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.