Sequel: Chris Barnard and the Hunterian Museum
To the Editor: On 1 September 2007, I wrote to the Journal regarding one’s puzzlement that in the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, London, no mention was made of the surgeon who performed the first heart transplant, or of where the operation took place.
I had the privilege and pleasure of meeting Sir Terence English at a wedding last year. He was born and educated in South Africa and – 12 years after Barnard’s achievement – performed the first successful heart transplant in the UK. He directed the British Heart Foundation Heart Transplant Unit, served as President of the Royal College of Surgeons, and was knighted in 1991.
We discussed the anomaly; he agreed that it was a serious one, and undertook to attend to the exclusion. Recently, he e-mailed as follows: ‘After discussions with the new Curator of the Hunterian Museum the omission of Chris Barnard’s name has been corrected. The new display now starts: “In December 1967 Christiaan Barnard performed the first human heart transplant in Cape Town, South Africa. The patient, Louis Washkansky, lived for 18 days. A month later Barnard transplanted a second patient who lived for nearly two years. Norman Shumway at Stanford …’’’
I am very grateful to Sir Terence, and I know that other South African doctors will share this appreciation.
Robert Ian Caldwell
April 2012, Vol. 102, No. 4 SAMJ
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