By Agence France-Presse It was an operation that earned him acclaim, but the world’s first heart transplant also provoked hate mail and outspoken criticism of South African surgeon Christiaan Barnard, 50 years ago. “We did not realise that it would take the public by storm and create such an outcry,” says Dene Friedmann, a specialist nurse on the cardiovascular team, standing in the same Cape Town operating theatre where the medical feat took place. Its watery-green tiled walls, visited by schools and the public, stir many memories for her of the historic procedure. And its aftermath. “There were people who wrote quite critical letters to Professor Barnard, horrible letters calling him ‘the butcher’,” says Friedmann, now in her seventies. The insults rained. “I have heard of human vultures, but it is the first time I have saw one with a name on it,” said one letter dated just one month after the operation and sent from Illinois in the United States. “You had the audacity to assume the authority of God by pretending to become the giver of life,” said another from Hong Kong. The French magazine Paris Match summed up the ethical debate in a headline: “The battle of… Read full this story
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