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Dr. Christiaan Barnard


Born: 8 November 1922
Died: 2 September 2001
Birthplace: Beaufort West, South Africa
Best known as: The doctor who performed the first heart transplant

Name at birth: Christiaan Neethling Barnard

Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the world's first human heart transplant on 3 December 1967. The patient, 53-year-old dentist Louis Washkansky, was given the heart of a 25-year-old auto crash victim named Denise Darvall. Washkansky died from infection 18 days later, but the transplant made Barnard one of the world's most famous surgeons. He died in 2001 while vacationing in Cyprus, following an asthma attack.

Extra credit: Rheumatoid arthritis forced Barnard to give up surgery in 1983... According to the BBC, Barnard's transplant made him such a celebrity that he later dated actresses Gina Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren... His autobiography, One Life, was published in 1969.

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