Professor Christiaan Barnard of Groote Schuur Hospital successfully transplanted the heart of a woman fatally wounded in a car accident into the chest of 55-year-old merchant Louis Washkansky.
After the surgery, Washkansky lived only for 18 days and died of transplant rejection. However, scholars found a way to suppress it. And even though Gajdusek, an American biologist, calls organ transplantation “civilized cannibalism,” those whose lives were prolonged by 20 or more years thanks to such surgeries probably wouldn’t appreciate his remark.
Second Barnard’s patient lived with a transplanted heart for 19 months. Today, people with transplanted hearts not only live long and happy lives but even run marathons, such as Brian Price from the UK, who completed a marathon run in 1985. Even new hearts don’t long for quietness.
Christian Barnard became a celebrity. He was so popular in South Africa, that in the 1980s, they began selling bronze copies of his hands of gold. In a cruel twist, the heart surgeon died of a heart attack.