Christiaan Neethling Barnard (8 November 1922 – 2 September 2001) was a South African cardiac surgeon who performed the world's first highly publicized heart transplant and the first one in which the patient regained consciousness.
On 3 December 1967, Barnard transplanted the heart of accident-victim Denise Darvall into the chest of 54-year-old Louis Washkansky, with Washkansky regaining full consciousness and being able to easily talk with his wife, before dying 18 days later of pneumonia.
Barnard performed the world's first human-to-human heart transplant operation in the early morning hours of Sunday 3 December 1967. Louis Washkansky, a 54-year-old grocer who was suffering from diabetes and incurable heart disease, was the patient. Barnard was assisted by his brother Marius Barnard, as well as a team of thirty staff members. The operation lasted approximately five hours.
Barnard stated to Washkansky and his wife Ann Washkansky that the transplant had an 80% chance of success. This has been criticised by the ethicists Peter Singer and Helga Kuhse as making claims for chances of success to the patient and family which were "unfounded" and "misleading".
The donor heart came from a young woman, Denise Darvall, who had been rendered brain dead in an accident on 2 December 1967, while crossing a street in Cape Town.
On examination at Groote Schuur hospital, Darvall had two serious fractures in her skull, with no electrical activity in her brain detected, and no sign of pain when ice water was poured into her ear. Coert Venter and Bertie Bosman requested permission from Darvall's father for Denise's heart to be used in the transplant attempt.
The afternoon before his first transplant, he decided to modify Shumway and Lower's technique. Instead of cutting straight across the back of the atrial chambers of the donor heart, he would avoid damage to the septum and instead cut two small holes for the venae cavae and pulmonary veins.
Prior to the transplant, rather than wait for Darvall's heart to stop beating, at his brother Marius Barnard's urging, Christiaan had injected potassium into her heart to paralyse it and render her technically dead by the whole-body standard. Though the first patient with the heart of another human being survived for only a little more than two weeks, Barnard had passed a milestone in a new field of life-extending surgery.
According to en.wikipedia