Christian Barnard, the man who performed the first human heart transplant. Christian Barnard was born in Beaufort West, South Africa on November 8, 1922. He was the fourth of five sons. His father was Adam Hedrick Barnard who was a reverend in the Dutch reformed church, he preached to a non-white congregation. His mother was Maria Elisabeth Deswart Barnard who had been a school teacher before marriage. Both parents were also Afrikaner missionaries. Christian Barnard grew up in a poor environment in Beaufort West, a town on South Africa’s semi-arid Great Karroo plateau.
Christian Barnard attended a local high school he went on and received an M.D. degree from the University of Cape Town in 1953. He received a Ph. D degree from the University of Minnesota in 1958. He returned to the University of Cape Town in 1958 to teach surgery. He specialized in open-heart surgery and in designing artificial heart valves.
The first human heart transplant was performed on December 3, 1967, transferring the heart of a 25 year old woman into the body of Louis Waskansky , a 55 year old grocer. He died 18 days later due to double pneumonia as a result of his suppressed immune system. The second transplant was on January 2, 1968 which was for Philip Blaiberg, who lived for 563 days after the operation.
Christian Barnard spent the beginning of his adult life in the United States where he gained recognition for research in gastrointestinal pathology and later went back to South Africa and introduced open-heart surgery to that country and designed artificial valves for the human heart.
Christian Barnard made a huge impact and contribution to healthcare when he attempted and accomplished the worlds first human heart transplant which was a huge success in the medical field. His accomplishment led to further investigation in heart transplants and which now is a normal surgery that is performed all around the world today.