Groundbreaking Heart Procedure
On this date in 1967, cardiac surgeon Christiaan Barnard and a team of 20 other surgeons implanted the heart of a 25-year-old female victim of an accident into a 55-year-old man. This was the first-ever human heart transplant. Barnard and his team performed the operation at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa. Although the patient lived for only 18 more days, an autopsy found that it was not his healthy heart, but rather pulmonary infection, that killed him. In the years after Barnards pioneering efforts, human heart transplants have become increasingly common. In 1998, the last year for which statistics are available, close to 2,500 human heart transplants were performed in the United States. The number of people older than 65 who need a transplant, however, is more than 20 times that.
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