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January 08, 2009

Relive a dramatic moment of medical history

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Which defining moments in South African history do you remember? Nelson Mandela walking out of prison? Winning the Rugby World Cup? The first democratic election? What about the world’s first heart transplant – that amazing event in 1967 when a young, charismatic doctor from the Karoo dazzled the world with his brilliance, his daring, his technical skills and his flashing smile?

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You can now experience the drama and immediacy of that operation in the Heart of Cape Town Museum  at Groote Schuur Hospital in Main Road, Observatory.

You’ll be taken to a replica of the site where the young donor, Denise Darvall, was tragically killed in a car accident; go into the actual operating theatre where her heart was removed; move into the adjacent one where the world’s first heart transplant patient, Louis Washkansky, was waiting for his new heart; and smell, feel and hear the work of the soon-to-be-world-famous surgeon and his team. (The life-size models look so real your own heart will almost stop.)

Twelve days later Dr Chris Barnard was on the cover of Time magazine.  “From zero to hero in 12 days,” is how Hennie Joubert, the museum’s curator, describes Barnard’s dizzying leap to global celebrity status.

It’s a stunning museum that will fascinate anyone. Take your family, your friends, your visitors … there’s nowhere else in the world like it.

Guided tours start at 09h00, 11h00, 13h00, 15h00 and 17h00. There’s a coffee shop and you can buy curios.

If you wish, the museum bus will collect you from your hotel and transport you to and from Groote Schuur. Tel +27 21 404 1967.

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