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Tex Heart Inst J. 1999;26(3):198-205.

The history and development of cardiac transplantation.

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Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan 48201, USA.


The history of heart surgery, spanning only 100 years to date, has seen some of the most daring and persistent men and women in all of medical history. Many aspects of heart surgery, including such innovations as the heart-lung machine, aortic aneurysm surgery, and the correction of congenital heart defects, have provided future surgeons with an important lesson: diligent research can solve complex problems. The history and development of cardiac transplantation is particularly full of challenges that have been overcome, with the research phase alone spanning more than 90 years. During that time, essential contributions came from all over the world, including the United States, Russia, England, and South Africa. As is typical of medical advancement, individual contributions did not stand alone but added to the experience of those who had come before. Even so, the work of a few particular groups deserves special recognition. Most notable is the Stanford team, led by Dr. Norman Shumway, who continued to transplant human hearts when other institutions had abandoned hopes for the operation. Largely because of the commitment of that team, cardiac transplantation has become a standard option in the treatment of end-stage heart disease. Currently, only the availability of donor hearts limits the number of cardiac transplantations performed worldwide.

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