Inside the Charles Saint Theatre

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.

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Prof Chris Barnard led the team that carried out the procedure in this room nearly 50 years ago.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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A wax mannequin of Chris Barnard in his office, seated behind his original desk in his own suit.
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A lifelike Louis Washkansky in his hospital bed post surgery. Sadly, he died of pneumonia 18 days after receiving the new heart.
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How local newspaper the Cape Times reported on the world’s first human heart transplant.
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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.
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