Monday, April 21, 2003
It's still one of the most amazing medical procedures ever developed - actually taking the heart of one person who has just died and shortly thereafter transplanting it into another person whose heart is failing. Today, over 2,000 of these heart transplants are performed every year in the United States. The first one took place in 1967, actually, in South Africa at a time when that country was racially divided by the system called apartheid. And the heart of a black accident victim was transplanted into the body of a sickly, 59-year-old man who happened to be white. And Christian Barnard, the heart surgeon who carried out this breakthrough operation, would go down in the pages of medical history with the giants.