Original General Surgery Theaters

Theatres A and B, are the original General Surgery theatres used for the first human heart transplant.

Everything in them, is laid out to create a fully authentic representation of the pioneering operation which took place at Groote Schuur Hospital on the 3rd December 1967.

Denise Darvall

After having been declared brain dead, Denise Darvall was brought to Theatre B, the donor theatre, shortly after midnight. She was prepared for surgery, by Dr Marius Barnard and his team.  At 03.00 a.m. her heart was eventually harvested for transplantation into the recipient Louis Washkansky who lay waiting in the adjoining Theatre A.  Her kidneys were harvested and sent to Karl Bremer hospital, where they helped save a young boy’s life.

“Dit gaan werk!”

In Theatre A, Professor Chris Barnard, assisted by Rodney Hewitson, carefully sewed the donor heart into place in Washkansky’s chest. In total the operation lasted four and three quarter hours.

At precisely 06.13 a.m. Washkansky’s new heart began to beat strongly and Professor Chris Barnard looked with shining eyes at his team and said in Afrikaans “Dit gaan werk!” – “It’s going to work!”