The First Heart Transplant - Beat By Beat

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Surgeon Stephen Westaby explores the events leading up to the first heart transplant and reflects on the consequences of that extraordinary medical breakthrough.

"The heart is merely a pump," said Christiaan Barnard, a little-known Cape Town surgeon who became famous overnight following the dramatic events of 3rd December 1967 when he led a 30-strong team through the landmark procedure.

A survival story, a daring professional achievement, a watershed moment in the relationship of the public to the medical profession, it also proved to be a turning point in our conceptions of identity and body, raising fundamental questions of what makes us who we are.

Through archive and new interviews with those who worked with Barnard - or came to know him later in life, as Stephen Westaby did, when Barnard became an increasingly eccentric figure - the programme explores the myths and ethics surrounding the man and medical technique he pioneered.

Produced by Phil Smith
A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4.

20171206

Surgeon Stephen Westaby explores the events leading up to the first heart transplant.

Surgeon Stephen Westaby explores the events leading up to the first heart transplant and reflects on the consequences of that extraordinary medical breakthrough.

"The heart is merely a pump," said Christiaan Barnard, a little-known Cape Town surgeon who became famous overnight following the dramatic events of 3rd December 1967 when he led a 30-strong team through the landmark procedure.

A survival story, a daring professional achievement, a watershed moment in the relationship of the public to the medical profession, it also proved to be a turning point in our conceptions of identity and body, raising fundamental questions of what makes us who we are.

Through archive and new interviews with those who worked with Barnard - or came to know him later in life, as Stephen Westaby did, when Barnard became an increasingly eccentric figure - the programme explores the myths and ethics surrounding the man and medical technique he pioneered.

Produced by Phil Smith
A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4.

20180213