Chris Barnard, who performed world's first heart transplant, was born today

Chris Barnard, who performed world's first heart transplant, was born today

South Africa has been the birthplace of many wonderful and notable people over the years. Colourful and amazing characters have grown up on South African soil - people like Nelson Mandela, Brenda Fassie and Christiaan Barnard. Each of them has their own story and reason for making South Africans proud.

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Today, 8 November, is the birthday of one of the most notable doctor's in the world's history - South African Dr Christiaan Barnard.

It's no secret that Barnard was the first man to do the very first real human heart transplant, but few people know that he wrote 18 books in his lifetime, including novels and health books.

As we celebrate the doctor's birthday, we give you some lesser known facts about the legend.

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Christiaan Neethling Barnard was born 1922 in Beaufort West, Western Cape. He studied medicine at the University of Cape Town and had his first practice in Ceres, also in the Western Cape.

Barnard gained world fame when he led his medical team in the first ever heart transplant in 1967. He was charming and intelligent, the kind of doctor South Africa can be proud of. have gathered a couple of facts about the doctor that is not as known as his capabilities as a heart surgeon.

Barnard opposed apartheid

The surgeon to segregate his patients according to race and voiced his political views in his public speeches and newspaper column.

This led to heated clashes with hospital authorities and stern reprimands from politicians, including a warning from the State President Nic Diederichs that he could no longer protect him.

Eventually, the government withdrew Barnard's VIP privileges and use of private lounges at SA airports.

Barnard transplanted hearts - and played with them

The legendary doctor went on to do more heart plants after his first success but he did not only heal those who are sick because of their hearts; he caused some heartache himself.

Barnard had numerous affairs and was married 3 times. He had 6 kids from these marriages - of which the youngest was born when he was 74.

The doctor was often the talk of the town for his infidelities.

Barnard was seen as a hero - and treated as such

After his success shot him into fame, film stars, sport stars, models, royalty and politicians lined up to meet the iconic doctor of hearts. He met and dined with global icons, including Pope Paul VI, Princess Grace of Monaco and Princess Diana, and actress Sophia Loren. Barnard drew huge crowds of people desperate to touch him or get hold of an autograph or photo.

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Barnard was a very busy author

The surgeon went on to write 18 books, including popular health books, novels and autobiographies. He also wrote a weekly column to the Cape Times for many years. In The Second Life, his post-fame memoirs, he wrote about all his 'sexual adventures'.

Now you know a little bit more about the man who became one of the most famous South Africans of his generation.

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