Christiaan Barnard: The Surgeon Who Dared

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Christiaan Barnard: The Surgeon Who Dared

Product no.: 978-1-78155-639-9
Cover price £25.00
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  • A memoir of Christiaan Barnard by a former colleague and personal friend
  • New insights on the controversial surgeon by many who knew him well
  • An insider’s perspective of the early development of heart transplantation

From humble beginnings as a ‘barefoot boy’ in a small town in the heart of South Africa, the charismatic and controversial Christiaan Barnard became the most famous surgeon the world has ever known by performing the first human heart transplant in Cape Town on 3 December 1967. His new-found fame led him to mix with presidents and prime ministers, with royalty and popes, and he quickly became addicted to the high-life of the jet-set who surrounded him, eventually becoming distracted until he was a mere shadow in his own department. Yet, he remained in the public eye through his gifts for public speaking and as a writer.

He caused controversy by his role in advertising a cream that reputedly prevented wrinkling of the skin, but set-up a heart research foundation and a society that paid for children from all over the world to travel to Cape Town for corrective heart surgery. Throughout life, he was a serial womaniser, surviving three tempestuous marriages and divorces, each wife becoming younger than the last. Can we summarise Christiaan Barnard? Not very easily. He was a complex combination of selfless visionary and selfish hedonist. Surgery will not see such a colourful character again.


David Cooper trained in heart surgery in the UK. He was present at the first heart transplant in London in 1968, and was a member of the surgical team that established heart transplantation in Cambridge in 1979. He then became a colleague of Christiaan Barnard in Cape Town for several years before following Barnard to Oklahoma City, where he helped establish a new heart transplantation programme. He now dedicates his time to transplantation research. In writing this memoir of Barnard, Cooper has drawn on both his personal friendship with the charismatic surgeon and on his great experience of heart transplantation.


234 x 156 mm - hardback - 576 pages - 95 photographs

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