Heart transplantation historical perspective

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Editor(s)-in-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D.; Associate Editor-In-Chief: Cafer Zorkun, M.D., Ph.D. [1]Ifrah Fatima, M.B.B.S[2]


The first heart transplant into a human occurred in 1964. The first human-to-human heart transplant was performed by Dr. Christian Barnard in 1967. Norman Shumway performed the first adult human to human heart transplant in the United States. Further developments in the field saw the emergence of standardization of recipient selection criteria, introduction of surveillance endocardial biopsy, distant donor heart procurement, and introduction of Cyclosporine A as an immunosuppressive regimen.

Historical perspective


  • 1964- The first heart transplant into a human occurred at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi when a team led by Dr. James Hardy transplanted a chimpanzee heart into a dying patient. [1]
  • December 1967- Professor Christian Barnard performed the first human to human heart transplant at Groote Schuur Hospital, South Africa. The patient was a Louis Washkansky of Cape Town, South Africa, who lived for 18 days after the procedure before dying of pneumonia. The donor was Denise Darvall, who was rendered brain dead in a car accident. [2]

Landmark Events in the Development of Treatment Strategies

  • December 6, 1967- Adrian Kantrowitz performed the world's first pediatric heart transplant
  • January 6, 1968- Norman Shumway performed the first adult human to human heart transplant in the United States at the Stanford University Hospital. [3]

Further developments in the field came in the form of:

  • 1970 - Recipient selection criteria standardized


  1. Hardy, James D.; Chavez, Carlos M. (1968). "The first heart transplant in man". The American Journal of Cardiology. 22 (6): 772–781. doi:10.1016/0002-9149(68)90172-0. ISSN 0002-9149.
  2. Kim IC, Youn JC, Kobashigawa JA (2018). "The Past, Present and Future of Heart Transplantation". Korean Circ J. 48 (7): 565–590. doi:10.4070/kcj.2018.0189. PMC 6031715. PMID 29968430.
  3. Kalra, Aakshi; Seth, Sandeep; Hote, MilindPadmaker; Airan, Balram (2016). "The story of heart transplantation: From cape town to cape comorin". Journal of the Practice of Cardiovascular Sciences. 2 (2): 120. doi:10.4103/2395-5414.191525. ISSN 2395-5414.

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