Professor Christian Barnard, the man who performed the world's first heart transplant operation in 1967, has announced his intention to retire in 1983.
GV Groote Schuur Hospital.
SV Surgeon washing his hands.
SV Professor Christian Barnard, in theatre, prepared for operation.
GV Professor Barnard speaking to a reporter. (SOT) (3 SHOTS)
TRANSCRIPT QUESTION: (SEQ 4) "Why do you want to quit now?"
BARNARD:"There are several reasons. The main reason is that I have become physically unfit for surgery in that I suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, and I have been able to play very little part in operating, in the work for operating in the last two years."
QUESTION:"But critics say that you have spent your life promoting high technology medicine. In their view, this is both unnecessary, and expensive, overpriced. Their view is that if people simply led healthy lives there would be no need for all this high technology. What do you feel about that?"
BARNARD:"I hope they're not implying that our surgery is high technology medicine. I mean there are other branches of medicine that have got much higher technology,like nuclear machine, for example, than cardiac transplant patients. But I must move with the years and with the age, and this is an age of high technology medicine. I mean we're using techniques these days that are very complicated techniques. But this doesn't mean that because that high technology ... does not ... is not very great value. I mean, yesterday, we pointed out that we have developed a technique of diagnosing a rejection using high technology medicine. But it's a tremendous improvement in the way that we diagnose rejection by low technology medicine. So I think it's absolutely wrong to feel that high technology medicine should not be used and not promoted because we are living in an age of high technology."
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Background: Professor Christian Barnard, the man who performed the world's first heart transplant operation in 1967, has announced his intention to retire in 1983. Citing arthritis as the main reason, the 61-year-old surgical pioneer has relinquished his post as chief specialist in the cardiac department of Cape Town's Groote Schuur Hospital. He said, however, that he intended to act as a consultant on a number of medical projects. Barnard's - and the world's -first heart transplant patient, Louis Washkansky, died 18 days after that first operation in December, 1967. Later patients, however, went on to live virtually normal lives for several years after their transplants, and one of them, Mary Fisher, lived for 12 years after her operation in 1969. At the time of the first operation, Professor Barnard's breakthrough was greeted with a barrage of medical and ethical criticism, but ini an interview on August 4, he defended his actions and the concomitant rapid advance in medical science.