Design by guru design The competition stiffens 1965: David Hume, chief of surgery at the Medical College of Virginia, becomes desperate to create a medical legacy for his facility by winning the race. He knows he needs a top man and so makes Lower an offer he cannot refuse - to run his own show in cardiac transplant research. Lower and Shumway are now racing each other, each convinced that one of them will be the first to transplant a human heart. 29 June 1966: Kantrowitz is posed to attempt the world’s first human heart transplant at Brooklyn’s Maimonides Hospital. The recipient, six week-old Miller Stevenson, is an immigrant Hungarian gypsy prince, with five distinct cardiac malformations. His donor is the anencephalic* baby, one day-old Ralph Edward Senz. The operation, however, was doomed to fail before it was begun. In accordance with American law at the time, Kantrowitz had to wait for the donor heart to stop beating before Senz could be declared dead and his small heart excised. This delay proved too much, and the tiny muscle, too long deprived of oxygen, died. * These babies have no cerebrum (the largest and most highly developed part of the brain) but they do have a brain stem which allows respiration and heart beat for a minimal period. The babies cannot see, hear, or feel anything. 2 July 1966: Kantrowitz and the Hungarian gypsy prince are given a second chance with anencephalic Baby Smith. But unfortunately the donor’s heart begins to falter even before the doctors reach the OR and Kantrowitz’s hopes, once again, fade and die. Catching up Early 1966: Barnard realises that he cannot depend on his daughter, through her water-skiing, to satisfy his own personal craving for ambition: “I began to worry about Deirdre ever reaching the top. She was, I feared, too nice a girl. She did not have the killer instinct needed to become a world champion.” August – October 1966: Barnard’s personal ambition kicks in and he flies to America to attend a course at the Medical College of Virginia on rejection and to spend a sabbatical with David Hume, a top renal transplant surgeon, to learn about the prevention and management of organ rejection – a step closer to performing kidney, and then heart, transplantation at Groote Schuur Hospital. September 1966: Barnard is fired up further as he witnesses Lower calmly at work transplanting dogs’ hearts. The simplicity and success of the Shumway/ Lower technique excites Barnard and he confides to Carl Goosen (his former laboratory perfusionist now working at the Medical College of Virginia): “I’m going to do it in a human.” Running safe October 1966: Lower is urged by Hume to perform a heart transplant when a potential donor becomes available for a dying patient. The ever-cautious Lower, however, resists the insistent Hume due to ABO blood-type incompatibility. BACK NEXT Copyright (c) | | All rights reserved