Norman Shumway

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 02 March 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:553

The father of heart transplantation and surgeon who performed the world's first heart-lung transplant

Norman Shumway, a surgeon at Stanford University, California, had been researching heart transplantation in animals for a decade when he announced, on 20 November 1967, that he was ready to carry out the first human heart transplant and was awaiting a suitable donor. The announcement received news coverage around the world. The following day, the South African Cape Times announced that a team at Groote Schuur Hospital was on standby to perform a heart transplant. South African surgeon Christiaan Barnard (obituary BMJ 2001;323: 696) had trained with Shumway in California, and he performed the world's first transplant on 3 December 1967. The patient survived for 17 days.

Embedded Image


Shumway, a mild mannered and modest man, felt relieved that he wasn't the first. He wanted to avoid the media spotlight and perform a series of 10 operations that he could report in a medical journal. He performed his first successful human heart transplant, and the world's fourth, …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription