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Christiaan Neethling Barnard (1922 — 2001), South African-born physician, and pioneer heart surgeon, performed the first human heart transplant in November 1967. Other surgeons had previously researched transplants, but Barnard was the first to attempt one because other surgical teams were concerned about the ethics of heart transplantation. Barnard graduated with a medical degree from the University of Cape Town in 1946, and worked as a family physician in the Western Cape until 1951. He went on to take two research degrees from the University of Cape Town, a Master of Medicine and Doctor of Medicine for his dissertation on tuberculous meningitis. Barnard spent two years in the United States at the University of Minnesota for postgraduate training in cardiothoracic surgery. He then returned to Cape Town and worked as a cardiothoracic surgeon at Groote Schuur Hospital.
In December 1967, after performing the first heart transplant, Barnard monitored his patient who lived for 18 days. Barnard went on to perform more heart transplants, and refine his techniques. After some debate about how to define brain death, a necessary prerequisite for removing a donor's heart, the procedure gained acceptance internationally. Barnard's work made him famous and wealthy. He started the Barnard Foundation to bring patients to South Africa for heart surgeries. In his later years, Barnard endorsed an anti-aging cream which was discredited.