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Science Museum, London

An image of a container used for transporting human organs.
© Science Museum Group

In 2017, we supported a special exhibition commemorating the 50th anniversary of the world’s first heart transplant at the Science Museum in London – an organization committed to igniting the curiosity of tomorrow’s scientists and engineers.

3 December 2017 was the 50th anniversary of the world’s first successful heart transplant. Performed by Christaan Barnard, 54-year-old Louis Washkansky received 25-year-old Denise Darvall’s heart, following a road traffic accident. Even though Washkansky died 18 days after he received the transplant, his surgery was considered a success and the operation opened the door to this life-changing procedure.

Building bridges between the past and present, the anniversary display at the Science Museum compared and contrasted the first human heart transplant with the contemporary operation of today.

While the operation itself has not changed radically, heart transplant recipients are living longer than ever before, partly as a result of life-long medication. Transplanting a human heart is a remarkable achievement and the 12 month exhibit celebrated that from the patient’s perspective.