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Christiaan Barnard

Christiaan Barnard

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Christiaan Neethling Barnard (November 8, 1922 – September 2, 2001) was a South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

n cardiac
Human heart
The human heart is a muscular organ that provides a continuous blood circulation through the cardiac cycle and is one of the most vital organs in the human body...

 surgeon
Surgery
Surgery is an ancient medical specialty that uses operative manual and instrumental techniques on a patient to investigate and/or treat a pathological condition such as disease or injury, or to help improve bodily function or appearance.An act of performing surgery may be called a surgical...

 who performed the world's first successful human-to-human heart transplant
Heart transplantation
A heart transplant, or a cardiac transplantation, is a surgical transplant procedure performed on patients with end-stage heart failure or severe coronary artery disease. As of 2007 the most common procedure was to take a working heart from a recently deceased organ donor and implant it into the...

.

Early life


Barnard grew up in Beaufort West
Beaufort West
Beaufort West is a town in the Western Cape province in South Africa. It is the largest town in the arid Great Karoo region, and forms part of the Beaufort West Local Municipality, with 37 000 inhabitants in 2001....

, Cape Province
Cape Province
The Province of the Cape of Good Hope was a province in the Union of South Africa and subsequently the Republic of South Africa...

, Union of South Africa
Union of South Africa
The Union of South Africa is the historic predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into being on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the previously separate colonies of the Cape, Natal, Transvaal and the Orange Free State...

. His father, Adam Barnard, was a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church
Dutch Reformed Church
The Dutch Reformed Church was a Reformed Christian denomination in the Netherlands. It existed from the 1570s to 2004, the year it merged with the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Kingdom of the Netherlands to form the Protestant Church in the...

. One of his four brothers, Abraham, died of a heart problem at the age of five. Barnard matriculated from the Beaufort West High School in 1940, and went to study medicine at the University of Cape Town
University of Cape Town
The University of Cape Town is a public research university located in Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. UCT was founded in 1829 as the South African College, and is the oldest university in South Africa and the second oldest extant university in Africa.-History:The roots of...

 Medical School
Medical school
A medical school is a tertiary educational institution—or part of such an institution—that teaches medicine. Degree programs offered at medical schools often include Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Bachelor/Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Philosophy, master's degree, or other post-secondary...

, where he obtained his MB ChB in 1945.

Career


Barnard did his internship and residency at the Groote Schuur Hospital
Groote Schuur Hospital
Groote Schuur Hospital is a large, government-funded, teaching hospital situated on the slopes of Devil's Peak in the city of Cape Town, South Africa...

 in Cape Town
Cape Town
Cape Town is the second-most populous city in South Africa, and the provincial capital and primate city of the Western Cape. As the seat of the National Parliament, it is also the legislative capital of the country. It forms part of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality...

, after which he worked as a general practitioner in Ceres
Ceres, Western Cape
Ceres is a town with 46,251 inhabitants in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. It is the administrative centre and largest town of the Witzenberg Local Municipality. Ceres serves as a regional centre for the surrounding towns of Wolseley, Tulbagh, Op-die-Berg and Prince Alfred Hamlet...

, a rural town in the Cape Province
Cape Province
The Province of the Cape of Good Hope was a province in the Union of South Africa and subsequently the Republic of South Africa...

. In 1951, he returned to Cape Town where he worked at the City Hospital as a Senior Resident Medical Officer, and in the Department of Medicine at the Groote Schuur Hospital as a registrar. He completed his Masters degree, receiving Master of Medicine in 1953 from the University of Cape Town
University of Cape Town
The University of Cape Town is a public research university located in Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. UCT was founded in 1829 as the South African College, and is the oldest university in South Africa and the second oldest extant university in Africa.-History:The roots of...

. In the same year he obtained a doctorate in medicine (MD) from the same university for a dissertation entitled "The treatment of tuberculous meningitis".

In 1956, he received a two-year scholarship for postgraduate training in cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities is a public research university located in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, United States. It is the oldest and largest part of the University of Minnesota system and has the fourth-largest main campus student body in the United States, with 52,557...

, Minneapolis, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. It was during this time that Barnard first became acquainted with Norman Shumway
Norman Shumway
Norman Edward Shumway was a pioneer of heart surgery at Stanford University.-Early life:Shumway was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan...

, who did much of the pioneering research leading to the first human heart transplant. In 1958 he received a Master of Science in Surgery for a thesis entitled, "The aortic valve
Aortic valve
The aortic valve is one of the valves of the heart. It is normally tricuspid , although in 1% of the population it is found to be congenitally bicuspid . It lies between the left ventricle and the aorta....

 - problems in the fabrication and testing of a prosthetic valve". The same year he was awarded Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

 degree for his dissertation entitled "The aetiology of congenital intestinal atresia
Atresia
Atresia is a condition in which a body orifice or passage in the body is abnormally closed or absent.Examples of atresia include:* Imperforate anus - malformation of the opening between the rectum and anus....

". Barnard described the two years he spent in the US as "the most fascinating time in my life."

Upon returning to South Africa in 1958, Barnard was appointed cardiothoracic surgeon at the Groote Schuur Hospital, establishing the hospital's first heart unit. He was promoted to full-time lecturer and Director of Surgical Research at the University of Cape Town. Three years later he was appointed Head of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the teaching hospitals of the University of Cape Town. He rose to the position of Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Cape Town in 1962. Barnard's younger brother Marius, who also studied medicine, eventually became Barnard's right-hand man at the department of Cardiac Surgery. Over time, Barnard became known as a brilliant surgeon with many contributions to the treatment of cardiac diseases, such as the Tetralogy of Fallot
Tetralogy of Fallot
Tetralogy of Fallot is a congenital heart defect which is classically understood to involve four anatomical abnormalities...

 and Ebstein's anomaly
Ebstein's anomaly
Ebstein anomaly is a congenital heart defect in which the opening of the tricuspid valve is displaced towards the apex of the right ventricle of the heart.-Presentation:...

. He was promoted to Professor of Surgical Science in the Department of Surgery at the University of Cape Town in 1972. Among the many awards he received over the years, he was named Professor Emeritus in 1984.

The first successful heart transplant


Following the first successful kidney transplant
Kidney transplantation
Kidney transplantation or renal transplantation is the organ transplant of a kidney into a patient with end-stage renal disease. Kidney transplantation is typically classified as deceased-donor or living-donor transplantation depending on the source of the donor organ...

 in 1953, in the United States, Barnard performed the first kidney transplant in South Africa in October 1967. Barnard experimented for several years with animal heart transplants. More than 50 dogs received transplanted hearts. With the availability of new breakthroughs introduced by several pioneers, amongst them Norman Shumway
Norman Shumway
Norman Edward Shumway was a pioneer of heart surgery at Stanford University.-Early life:Shumway was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan...

, several surgical teams were in a position to prepare for a human heart transplant. Barnard had a patient willing to undergo the procedure, but as with other surgeons, he needed a suitable donor.

He performed the world's first human heart transplant operation on 3 December 1967, in an operation assisted by his brother, Marius Barnard; the operation lasted nine hours and used a team of thirty people. The patient, Louis Washkansky
Louis Washkansky
Louis Washkansky was the recipient of the world's first human heart transplant.-Biography:Washkansky was a Lithuanian Jew who migrated with his friends to South Africa in 1922, aged nine, and became a grocer in Cape Town. Washkansky saw active service in World War II in East and North Africa and...

, was a 54-year-old grocer
Grocer
A grocer is a bulk seller of food. Beginning as early as the 14th century, a grocer was a dealer in comestible dry goods such as spices, pepper, sugar, and cocoa, tea and coffee...

, suffering from diabetes and incurable heart disease
Heart disease
Heart disease, cardiac disease or cardiopathy is an umbrella term for a variety of diseases affecting the heart. , it is the leading cause of death in the United States, England, Canada and Wales, accounting for 25.4% of the total deaths in the United States.-Types:-Coronary heart disease:Coronary...

. Barnard later wrote, "For a dying man it is not a difficult decision because he knows he is at the end. If a lion chases you to the bank of a river filled with crocodiles, you will leap into the water, convinced you have a chance to swim to the other side." The donor heart came from a young woman, Denise Darvall
Denise Darvall
Denise Ann Darvall was the donor in the world’s first successful human heart transplant, performed at Groote Schuur Hospital, South Africa, by a team of surgeons led by Christiaan Barnard....

, who had been rendered brain damaged in an accident on December 2, 1967, while crossing a street in Cape Town. After securing permission from Darvall's father to use her heart, Barnard performed the transplant. Rather than wait for Darvall's heart to stop beating, at his brother, Dr. Marius Barnard's urging, Christiaan had injected potassium into her heart to paralyze it and render her technically dead by the whole-body standard. Twenty years later, Dr. Marius Barnard recounted, "Chris stood there for a few moments, watching, then stood back and said, 'It works.'" Washkansky survived the operation and lived for 18 days. However, he succumbed to pneumonia
Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

 as he was taking Immunosuppressive drug
Immunosuppressive drug
Immunosuppressive drugs or immunosuppressive agents are drugs that inhibit or prevent activity of the immune system. They are used in immunosuppressive therapy to:...

s. Though the first patient with the heart of another human being survived for only a little more than two weeks, Barnard had passed a milestone in a new field of life-extending surgery.

Barnard became an international superstar overnight and was celebrated around the world for his daring accomplishment. He was quite photogenic
Photogenic
A subject is photogenic if appearing aesthetically or physically attractive or appealing in photographs. Photogenic drawing, coined by William Fox Talbot, also describes the earliest method for recording camera images....

, and enjoyed the media attention following the operation. Barnard continued to perform heart transplants. A transplant operation was conducted on 2 January 1968, and the patient, Philip Blaiberg
Philip Blaiberg
Philip Blaiberg was a Jewish South African dentist and the second person to receive a heart transplant. On January 2, 1968, in Cape Town, Dr...

, survived for 19 months. Dirk van Zyl, who received a new heart in 1971, was the longest-lived recipient, surviving over 23 years.

Barnard performed ten orthotopic transplants (1967–1973). He was also the first to perform a heterotopic heart transplant, an operation that he himself devised. Forty-nine consecutive heterotopic heart transplants were performed in Cape Town between 1975 and 1984.

When many surgeons—disillusioned by poor results—gave up cardiac transplantation, Barnard persisted until the advent of ciclosporin
Ciclosporin
Ciclosporin , cyclosporine , cyclosporin , or cyclosporin A is an immunosuppressant drug widely used in post-allogeneic organ transplant to reduce the activity of the immune system, and therefore the risk of organ rejection...

, which helped revive the operation throughout the world. He was also the first surgeon to attempt xenograft transplantation in a human patient, while attempting to save the life of a young girl unable to leave artificial life support after a second aortic valve replacement. He was later accused of wrongdoing by her parents.

Public life


After his first successful heart transplant Barnard became known as the "film star surgeon". He was loved by his patients throughout the world, hundreds of whom were treated free of charge, and hated by many others who were jealous of his instant success. He was accused by some colleagues in the profession of "stealing" the idea and the opportunity to perform the first heart transplant. Often considered a spoiled and arrogant personality, he was also regarded as kind and considerate by others. Because of his widely publicized love affairs, he became jokingly known as "doctor of hearts", referring to the heart as an emotional symbol rather than in its usual medical context.

Barnard was an outspoken opponent of South Africa's laws of apartheid, and was not afraid to criticize his nation's government, although he had to temper his remarks to some extent to travel abroad. Rather than leaving his homeland, he used his fame to campaign for a change in the law. Christiaan's brother, Dr. Marius Barnard, went into politics, and was elected to the legislature on an anti-apartheid platform. Barnard later stated that the reason he never won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine administered by the Nobel Foundation, is awarded once a year for outstanding discoveries in the field of life science and medicine. It is one of five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, in his will...

 was probably because he was a "white South African".

Personal life


Barnard's first marriage was to Aletta Gertruida Louw, a nurse, whom he married in 1948 while practicing medicine in Ceres. The couple had two children: Deirdre (born 1950) and Andre (1951–1984). International fame took a toll on his personal life, and in 1969, Barnard and his wife divorced. In 1970, he married heiress Barbara Zoellner when she was 19, and they had two children: Frederick (born 1972) and Christiaan Jr. (born 1974). He divorced Zoellner in 1982. Barnard married for a third time in 1988 to Karin Setzkorn, a young model. They also had two children: Armin (born 1990) and Lara (born 1997), but this last marriage also ended in divorce in 2000.

Barnard allegedly had affairs with a number of famous women, including Gina Lollobrigida
Gina Lollobrigida
Gina Lollobrigida is an Italian actress, photojournalist and sculptress. She was one of the most popular European actresses of the 1950s and early 1960s. She was also an iconic sex symbol of the 1950s. Today, she remains an active supporter of Italian and Italian American causes, particularly the...

 and Françoise Hardy
Françoise Hardy
Françoise Madeleine Hardy is a French singer, actress and astrologer. Hardy is an iconic figure in fashion, music and style. She is married to the singer and movie actor Jacques Dutronc.-Biography:...

.

Retirement


Barnard retired as Head of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery in Cape Town in 1983 after developing rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, systemic inflammatory disorder that may affect many tissues and organs, but principally attacks synovial joints. The process produces an inflammatory response of the synovium secondary to hyperplasia of synovial cells, excess synovial fluid, and the development...

 in his hands which precluded his surgical career. He struggled with arthritis since 1956, when it was diagnosed during his postgraduate work in the US. After retirement, he spent two years as the Scientist-In-Residence at the Oklahoma Transplantation Institute in the US, and an acting consultant for various institutions.

He had by this time become very interested in anti-aging research, and his reputation suffered in 1986 when he promoted Glycel, an expensive "anti-aging" skin cream, whose approval was withdrawn by the United States Food and Drug Administration soon thereafter. He also spent time as a research advisor to the Clinique la Prairie, in Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, where the controversial "rejuvenation therapy" was practiced. He later expressed regret for endorsing Glycel.

Barnard divided the remainder of his years between Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, where he established the Christiaan Barnard Foundation, dedicated to helping underprivileged children throughout the world, and his game-farm in Beaufort West
Beaufort West
Beaufort West is a town in the Western Cape province in South Africa. It is the largest town in the arid Great Karoo region, and forms part of the Beaufort West Local Municipality, with 37 000 inhabitants in 2001....

, South Africa.

Death


Christiaan Barnard died in September 2001, while on holiday in Paphos
Paphos
Paphos , sometimes referred to as Pafos, is a coastal city in the southwest of Cyprus and the capital of Paphos District. In antiquity, two locations were called Paphos: Old Paphos and New Paphos. The currently inhabited city is New Paphos. It lies on the Mediterranean coast, about west of the...

, Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

. Early reports claimed that he had died of a heart attack
Myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction , commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die...

, although an autopsy
Autopsy
An autopsy—also known as a post-mortem examination, necropsy , autopsia cadaverum, or obduction—is a highly specialized surgical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a corpse to determine the cause and manner of death and to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present...

 showed his death to be caused by a severe asthma attack.

Books


Christiaan Barnard wrote two autobiographies. His first book, One Life, was published in 1969 and subsequently sold copies worldwide. Some of the proceeds were used to set up the Chris Barnard Fund for research into heart disease and heart transplants in Cape Town. His second autobiography, The Second Life, was published in 1993, eight years before his death.

Apart from his autobiographies, Dr Barnard also wrote several other books including:
  • The Donor
  • Your Healthy Heart
  • In The Night Season
  • The Best Medicine
  • Arthritis Handbook: How to Live With Arthritis
  • Good Life Good Death: A Doctor's Case for Euthanasia and Suicide
  • South Africa: Sharp Dissection
  • 50 Ways to a Healthy Heart
  • Body Machine

See also

  • Vladimir Demikhov
    Vladimir Demikhov
    Vladimir Petrovich Demikhov was a Soviet scientist and organ transplant pioneer, who did several transplantations in the 1930s and 1950s, such as the transplantation of a heart into an animal and a lung-heart replacement in an animal. He is also well-known for his transplantation of the heads of...

  • Cardiothoracic surgery
    Cardiothoracic Surgery
    Cardiothoracic surgery is the field of medicine involved in surgical treatment of diseases affecting organs inside the thorax —generally treatment of conditions of the heart and lungs .-Cardiac / Thoracic:...

  • Organ transplant
    Organ transplant
    Organ transplantation is the moving of an organ from one body to another or from a donor site on the patient's own body, for the purpose of replacing the recipient's damaged or absent organ. The emerging field of regenerative medicine is allowing scientists and engineers to create organs to be...

  • Hamilton Naki
    Hamilton Naki
    Hamilton Naki was a black laboratory assistant to white cardiac surgeon Christiaan Barnard in South Africa under apartheid...

  • Pierre Grondin
    Pierre Grondin
    Pierre Rene Grondin, MD was a Canadian cardiac surgeon who was one of the first doctors to perform a successful heart transplant. He was legendary in his surgical abilities and style and brought many innovations to the Montreal Heart Institute after his post-graduate training with pioneers Michael...

  • René Favaloro
    René Favaloro
    Dr. René Gerónimo Favaloro was an Argentine cardiac surgeon who created the technique for coronary bypass surgery....

  • Geoffrey Tovey
    Geoffrey Tovey
    Geoffrey Harold Tovey CBE CBE, MD, FRCP, FRCPath, was a doctor whose scientific contributions in the field of haematology brought him an international reputation. He was also an expert in serology and founder and Director of the UK Transplant Service.-Childhood and early life:Geoffrey Harold Tovey...


External links