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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

When was the first successful heart transplant

So when was the first successful heart transplant?  If I asked you this question, and  you googled it, you might come across this article.  The article states that the first successful heart transplant was done in 1967 by South African Surgeon Christian Barnaard.  The patient was "53-year-old Louis Washkansky, a Cape Town grocer suffering from diabetes and incurable heart disease," according to the article.

Now if I asked you the above question and you answered 1967 you would be correct, sort of.  I'm sure the medical community, maybe even the good folks from the TV show Jeopardy, would probably note you as being correct.  Surely the answer is correct for the modern world. 

Yet if we check back into our time machine and go back a few centuries B.C., and you go to Ancient China, you will find a man named Pien Chi'iao.  "He used anesthesia and was such a skillful surgeon that he exchanged successfully the hearts of two patients."

Check that as correct.  The first heart transplant was done a few centuries B.C. by Pien Chi'iao. 

  1. Prioreschi, Plinio, "A history of medicine," volume I, Primitive and Ancient Medicine," Chapter II "Chinese Medicine," Edwin Mellen Press, 1991, page 160.  Reference used by Prioreschi is the following:  Huang Ti Nei Ching Su Wen -- The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine, translated by Ilza Veith, Baltimore, William & Wilkins, 1949, page 3.  This is a classic medical texts presumably written by the emperor Huang Ti Nei Ching Su Wen who reined over Ancient China from approximately 2697-2598 B.C.  He is known as the Father of Chinese Medicine.The book is generally a conversation between the emperor and  his physician Ch'i Pai.  For further reading check out this post.

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