The First Heart Transplant
A look at the history of organ transplantation, focusing on the first human heart transplant 50 years ago this year.
The race to carry out the first human heart transplant 50 years ago was as dramatic as the race between the Americans and the Soviets to the moon. Four surgeons were days away from completing the operation, but it was the outsider, the South African Christiaan Barnard who became the winner, sparking a media frenzy that made him famous overnight all over the world. In this programme, Rajan Datar takes a look at the history of organ transplantation with particular focus on the first human heart transplant in 1967, and asks what it has made possible today and in the future. Joining him are Professor David Cooper, a British heart surgeon who worked with Christiaan Barnard; the South African historian Don Mc Rae; Professor Sharon Hunt, an American cardiologist who carried out pioneering work in the aftercare of heart transplant patients; and Pankaj Chandak, a British-Indian research fellow in transplant surgery.
Photo: Surgeons performing a transplant operation. (Getty Images)