Christiaan Barnard—the Surgeon Who Dared

David K.C. Cooper MD FRCS


Eur Heart J. 2018;39(23):2133-2134. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


On the 3rd December 2017, cardiovascular experts from all over the world met to celebrate the 50th anniversary of heart transplantation in Cape Town, South Africa, the place where Dr Christiaan Barnard had carried out the world's first human-to-human heart transplantation at Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH) 50 years earlier. For his milestone achievement in medicine, Dr Barnard had not only become famous overnight making him a true celebrity, he had also become 'The surgeon who dared'.

In his like-named book and what he also calls '…his extended memories…', Dr David Cooper, a cardiac surgeon from Alabama, Birmingham, and Barnard's long-term friend very authentically summarizes the fascinating, but also controversial life of Christiaan Barnard, a medical pioneer, the colleague and the friend. In 31 chapters, of almost 500 pages including many original conversations and quotes, this book tells the captivating story of a humble, poor, and very religious South African man who probably became the most famous cardiac surgeon ever.