December 3 - 1967 - The First Successful Heart Transplant
Dr. Christiaan Barnard achieved a medical breakthrough by becoming the first surgeon to successfully perform a human heart transplant at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa. He was not supposed to be the surgeon to achieve this feat, as a few others appeared better poised to perform a transplant. Barnard got to the first transplant because he got lucky, in a morbid way, by having the exact conditions, a patient dying of heart disease willing to have the surgery and a heart donor who had recently suffered a terrible accident. When Denise Darvall was hit by a car, Barnard was able to convince Louis Washkansky he could get a heart transplant. Barnard's efforts in successfully performing this tread on some ethically gray areas. Barnard would nontheless become internationally famous, which showed he was a less than wonderful person. There were also multiple issues with the operation because of Apartheid. Nonetheless, Christiaan Barnard was the doctor who first successfully transplanted a human heart.