On May 3, 1968, a major medical advance occurred at Houston’s St. Luke’s Hospital.
Surgeon Denton Cooley and his associates transplanted the heart donated by a fifteen year old girl to Everett Thomas.
Cooley and Houston doctor Michael E. DeBakey had been working on developing heart surgery to the point that they could do heart transplantation. Cooley got there first and DeBakey and he would have a strange competition for years to come.
Despite the odd rivalry, or maybe because of it, as Chester Burns describes it, Cooley, DeBakey and the teams of medical personnel in Houston “displayed extraordinary courage and technical expertise as they established the world's standards for heart surgery in newborn infants, for replacing diseased arteries with artificial and venous grafts, and for replacing diseased heart valves with artificial ones during open-heart operations.”
Thomas lived for 204 days with the new heart. And for quite a long time life expectancy was short. But with every medical advancement things have improved. People of all ages have heart transplants today and doctors are still searching for new advancements and solutions. Thomas lived for 204 days but now people can live for decades. Living 15 to 20 years after a transplant is becoming the standard result.
The Texas History Lessons Theme song, Walking Through History, was written and recorded by Derrick McClendon. Listen to his new album, Interstate Daydreamer! Available everywhere you find good music. Thank you Derrick! Twitter: @dmclendonmusic
Payton Matous performs Healing Side of Heartbreak at the end of the episode.
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