This year marks 50 years since Prof Chris Barnard performed the world’s first human heart transplant on December 3, 1967. I visited the Heart of Cape Town Museum recently, which houses the theatre where the groundbreaking procedure took place.
Prof Chris Barnard led the team that carried out the procedure in this room nearly 50 years ago.
Louis Washkansky, 53, received the heart of Denise Darvall, 25. Denise was declared brain dead after being struck by a car a few hundred metres from the Groote Schuur Hospital.
Piet Lotter, manager of the Heart of Cape Town Museum, stands in front of a large image showing the spot where Denise Darvall was run over in Main Road, Observatory. She suffered severe brain damage.
Using silicon mannequins, museum curators have painstakingly recreated the scene inside the Charles Saint Theatre. Recognisable are Prof. Chris Barnard, centre, and Louis Washkansky, on the operating table.
A wax mannequin of Chris Barnard in his office, seated behind his original desk in his own suit.
A lifelike Louis Washkansky in his hospital bed post surgery. Sadly, he died of pneumonia 18 days after receiving the new heart.
How local newspaper the Cape Times reported on the world’s first human heart transplant.
Medical professionals from across Africa and the world visit the museum annually. Here, two nurses from Johannesburg take pictures of Prof Barnard in his recreated office.