Medicine and Disease

Organ Transplantation

When was the first heart transplant?

The world’s first heart transplant took place on December 3, 1967, in Cape Town, South Africa. Surgeon Christiaan Barnard (1922–2001) conducted the operation; the patient lived for 18 days. Over the next two years, more than a hundred heart transplant operations were performed, but the survival rate was not encouraging. Surgeons have continued the practice with moderately improved results: While some heart recipients have lived as long as six years after the procedure, only 20 percent of the recipients survive more than one year.


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