Transplant surgery

In December 1967 the world was amazed to hear that the South African surgeon Christian Barnard (1922) had performed the first heart transplant. By transferring the heart of a young woman donor, who had died from brain injury after a car accident, he enabled recipient Louis Washkanskey to live for a further 18 days before he died of a massive pneumonia infection. Since that time much attention has focused on the transplantation of the heart as well as organs such as the skin, kidneys, liver and lungs and eventually perhaps, the brain.

In transplantation, an organ or tissue is removed from one site in the body and implanted or grafted into another site. This second site can be in the same person, an autograft; in a different person, an allograft; or even in a different species, a xenograft.