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Archive | A first heart transplant in Canada in 1968

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Nov20,2023

Archives | A first heart transplant in Canada in 1968

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Dr Pierre Grondin performed the first heart transplant in Canada in 1968.


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On May 31, 1968, the Dr. Pierre Grondin performs the first heart transplant in Canada at the Montreal Heart Institute (ICM). Cardiac surgery was then in its infancy. This delicate operation will make ICM known abroad.

It was in South Africa that the very first heart transplant was performed by Dr. Christian Barnard on December 3, 1967. Barely six months later, Canada participated in this great medical breakthrough.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">The Heart Institute prepared for the event for more than two months. On May 30, 1968, the operation was launched following the death of a potential donor.

The four-hour operation went smoothly. Around twenty specialist doctors assist Dr. Pierre Grondin and his deputy, Dr. Gilles Lepage.

Our images shot on May 31, 1968 show us a tired man who appears before the Canadian press the day after this first experience. Dr. Pierre Grondin, still wearing his medical cap, summarizes the intervention.

At 4 a.m., Dr. Paul David, general director of the Institute, announced to journalists stationed in front of the hospital doors that the heart transplant had been carried out successfully.

The next day, however, the medical team will have to summon the media again. Although the operation was a success, complications led to the death of the recipient, Albert Murphy.

Less than a month later, the team from the Montreal Heart Institute, still led by Pierre Grondin, performed a second transplant. On this occasion, Radio-Canada produced a special program to popularize the procedure: Heart transplant.

This special program hosted by Fernand Seguin was broadcast on June 28, 1968, the evening of the transplant carried out on Gaëtan Paris. Gathered on set, Drs Pierre Grondin and Gilles Lepage explain, using diagrams, the technical aspects of the operation.

It is also question of postoperative complications and donor and recipient selection criteria.

The recipient Gaëtan Paris will survive for seven months after the heart transplant.

During 1968, more than a hundred transplants were carried out in worldwide. The first transplant recipients, with a few exceptions, do not survive their transplantation for long due to the problem of rejection.

In July 1968, Dr. Pierre Grondin travels to South Africa, where a congress on organ transplants is taking place. In the following months, he will support a moratorium on heart transplants until a medical solution to this problem is found.

We will have to wait the 1980s, with the discovery of cyclosporine, an immunosuppressive drug that helps prevent the rejection reaction, so that transplant programs are resumed throughout the world.

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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