CONTESTED LEGACY: MARKING THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF PROF CHRIS
BARNARD’S PIONEERING HEART TRANSPLANT – Ray Hartle
The news that Prof Christiaan Barnard of the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital had carried out the first ever human-to-human heart transplant on December 3 1967, raced around the globe. Barnard’s place was entrenched in the annals of medical and popular history. South Africa, internationally significant up to that point only for its legalised apartheid policy, was now counted among the top countries for medical research and innovation. Fifty years later, there remains the slightest afterglow of having been the first country to move the heart transplantation programme from the research laboratory to the theatre. But much remains to be questioned – from Barnard’s willingness then to be used in service of the National Party government, to the failure now of the democratic government’s cardiac healthcare policy. Journalist, agitator, contrarian. Ray Hartle has lived with a weak heart since at least 2007. After battling ‘flu’ for many months, in August 2016 doctors told him he was in heart failure. Two months later he received a donor heart.
SUNDAY 2 JULY 2017 12:00