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Transplant Proc. 2011 May;43(4):1221-2. doi: 10.1016/j.transproceed.2011.03.070.

Vladimir P. Demikhov, a pioneer of organ transplantation.

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Department of Transplantation and Surgery, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary.


Vladimir P. Demikhov was born in a Russian peasant family in 1916. As a biology student at The Moscow University in 1937, he constructed a metal artificial heart and maintained the circulation of a dog for 5.5 hours. From 1946, after his military service, he worked in the Surgical Institute of The Moscow Academy of Sciences performing heterotopic heart transplantations in dogs. In 1947, he performed the first orthotopic lung transplant. Later he performed complex cardiothoracic transplantations as well as renal and hepatic transplantations. He restarted his investigations with the artificial heart and performed coronary bypass operations in dogs. In 1954 he performed a head transplantation, for which he gained worldwide infamy. Stalinist propaganda advertised this fact as the superiority of Soviet science. In fact, it was the upper body of a smaller dog to the neck of a bigger one. The two heads could eat and drink separately. But he could not overcome the problems of rejection, so the longest survival was 1 month among 20 such operations. His influence on the pioneers of transplantation is unquestionable. He was an innovative creative man, and many pioneers of transplantation highly appreciated his work. Demikhov contributed to clinical heart and lung transplantation by demonstrating the possibility of their experimental realization; furthermore, he motivated the pioneers of coronary bypass operations with his work. He died in 1998, but before that was honored with a high state award and the "Pioneer Award" of the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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