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Heart Transplant (Cardiac Transplant) Print E-mail

Dr. Kennedy Heart transplant is a surgical procedure in which a diseased heart is replaced with a healthy heart from a deceased person. The world's first heart transplant was done on December 3, 1967 by South African surgeon Christiaan Bernard (1922-2001). The recipient was Louis Washkansky, a grocer. The surgery went well, however, Mr. Washkansky was left vulnerable to infection from the large doses of immune-suppressing drugs (azathioprine and hydrocortisone) and radiation he received. He died of pneumonia 18 days after surgery. The second human heart transplant was also done by Dr. Barnard. On Jan. 2, 1968, Dr. Barnard transplanted the heart of a young man into a retired dentist, Philip Blaiberg. (The young man was of "mixed race" while Dr. Blaiberg was white. The fact that Dr. Bernard ignored racial barriers caused a sensation in apartheid South Africa.) The amount of anti-rejection drugs was reduced and Dr. Blaiberg survived for 19 months and 15 days. He died of chronic organ rejection. Heart transplant surgery has now become a standard procedure. It had been done about 100,000 times as of 2001 and was carried out on about 2,100 patients in 160 hospitals in the U.S. in 2001, with a one-year success rate of 85-90% and a five-year success rate of 75%. Also termed cardiac transplant.

The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.�Treatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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