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1981: A milestone for heart-lung transplants

Phil Gunby
JAMA. 1981;246(22):2537-2543. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03320220005002.
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Four human heart-lung transplants have been performed this year at Stanford University Medical Center, Palo Alto, Calif—one more than in all the previous history of this procedure. Three of the four patients are still alive.

The other three such operations were carried out in the late 1960s and early 1970s (although development of the surgical techniques and early animal studies associated with heart-lung transplants date back to the 1940s and 1950s) and did not enjoy the same success. The first recipient apparently was a 2 1/2-month-old girl who was admitted to Texas Children's Hospital, Houston, with an atrioventricular canal defect and pulmonary hypertension. Because the infant's condition was considered to be nearly terminal, on Sept 15, 1968, Denton A. Cooley, MD, and colleagues transplanted into the infant the heart and lungs of a day-old anencephalic infant who was being maintained on a ventilator. The recipient infant "died from pulmonary insufficiency


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