Sudhir and Anita Choudhrie and family opened the heart transplant exhibit, which has been supported by the Choudhrie Family Foundation, at London’s Science Museum on 29th November 2017. The exhibit marks 50 years since the first successful human heart transplant which took place on 3rd December 1967 at the Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town. South African surgeon, Christiaan Barnard stunned the world as news broke out that he had carried out the operation to place Denise Darvall’s heart into Louis Washkansky’s chest.
Science Museum curator Selina Hurley said, “Over the last couple of months, I have lost count of the conversations I’ve had with people, including my parents, about what it was like. Barnard’s achievement was so often compared to climbing Mount Everest.”
Barnard’s historic operation kicked off what became known as ‘a year of transplants’ where surgeons attempted the same operation. Over 100 operations happened in 50 different hospitals worldwide with varying degrees of success. Although, high mortality rates and the high cost meant many surgeons turned their back on the procedure. By the end of the 1970s, with brain death passing into law and new immunosuppressant drugs, transplants became more widely practised again.
To commemorate this historic milestone in medicine, the Science Museum is looking at human heart transplants then and now – told by the people who have that unique experience, accompanied by objects that support their stories today.
This display would not have been possible without the support of Papworth Hospital, Eric Scoones, and the Choudhrie Family Foundation. Sudhir Choudhrie suffered from the same genetic heart condition that led to the early death of his brother Rajiv in 1998. Following years of ill health, he underwent an emergency heart transplant operation at Columbia University Medical Centre in New York. The surgeon was Dr Mehmet Oz who has talked about the operation on his The Dr Oz Show. Mr Choudhrie is now one of the longest surviving heart transplant recipients in the world.
For further information visit https://blog.sciencemuseum.org.uk/fifty-years-of-human-heart-transplants/
About The Science Museum
As the home of human ingenuity, the Science Museum’s world-class collection forms an enduring record of scientific, technological and medical achievements from across the globe. Welcoming over three million visitors a year, the Museum aims to make sense of the science that shapes our lives, inspiring visitors with iconic objects, award-winning exhibitions and incredible stories of scientific achievement.
More information can be found at sciencemuseum.org.uk.