SALT LAKE CITY — Heart transplants have become so successful, that it is easy to forget how remarkable it is to be able to save a life through transplant. This year marks the 50th year since the first transplant on Dec. 3, 1967.
At that time Dr. Christiaan Barnard transplanted the heart of a 25 year old woman who was fatally injured in an automobile accident into the chest of a 53 year old man who was suffering from heart failure.
Although the recipient died of pneumonia 18 days later, the transplant was considered a success as the heart was functioning normally in its new home. The next big hurdle would be to develop more effective anti-rejection medication.
At the time this transplant was performed, it was considered experimental and the world was watching. Since it was successful, other heart transplants followed. Thanks to that first transplant, thousands have benefitted from the gift of a new heart.
Utah transplanted their 1,000th heart in 2008. The recipient was a man who expressed gratitude that he was able to hold his first grandchild. The Utah Cardiac Program celebrated their 30 year anniversary in 2015.
More information about organ, eye and tissue donation can be found at www.yesutah.org.