Christiaan Barnard

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Christiaan Neethling Barnard (November 8, 1922 – September 2, 2001) was a South African cardiac surgeon who performed the world's first successful human-to-human heart transplant.

Contents

Early life

Barnard grew up in Beaufort West, Cape Province, Union of South Africa. His father, Adam Barnard, was a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church. One of his four brothers, Abraham, died of a heart problem at the age of five. Barnard matriculated from the Beaufort West High School in 1940, and went to study medicine at the University of Cape Town Medical School, where he obtained his MB ChB in 1945.

Career

Barnard did his internship and residency at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, after which he worked as a general practitioner in Ceres, a rural town in the Cape Province. In 1951, he returned to Cape Town where he worked at the City Hospital as a Senior Resident Medical Officer, and in the Department of Medicine at the Groote Schuur Hospital as a registrar. He completed his Masters degree, receiving Master of Medicine in 1953 from the University of Cape Town. In the same year he obtained a doctorate in medicine (MD) from the same university for a dissertation entitled "The treatment of tuberculous meningitis".

In 1956, he received a two-year scholarship for postgraduate training in cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, United States. It was during this time that Barnard first became acquainted with Norman Shumway, who did much of the pioneering research leading to the first human heart transplant. In 1958 he received a Master of Science in Surgery for a thesis entitled, "The aortic valve - problems in the fabrication and testing of a prosthetic valve". The same year he was awarded Doctor of Philosophy degree for his dissertation entitled "The aetiology of congenital intestinal atresia". Barnard described the two years he spent in the USA as "the most fascinating time in my life."

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