Monday, July 7, 2008

The Heart of Cape Town

Cape Town has a beautiful climate – warm and sunny. But not in July. July is the winter in South Africa, and Cape Town can get hit hard. And on this Sunday morning, it was pouring with rain.
This ruined our plans to ascend Table Mountain. Instead, we visited a place that far exceeded our expectations – the Heart of Cape Town Museum. This museum commemorates the world’s first ever heart transplant, performed in South Africa by Dr. Cris Barnaard. We began with looking at the experimental heart transplants performed on dogs. Bizarrely, one related experiment including the successful transplantation of a dog’s head onto the neck of another dog, resulting in a healthy two-headed dog!
We learned about the moving story of the first transplant recipient and donor, the medical challenges involved, the extraordinary drive of Dr. Barnaard, the fame and glory resulting from his success, and the resultant catastrophe when American doctors attempted to copy his success but failed again and again. We also saw the original heart from Dr. Barnaard's first transplant itself, preserved in perspex. It was much more interesting than we expected, and I recommend it for anyone stuck in Cape Town on a rainy morning!
(Of particular Torah interest is that the heart was traditionally thought to be the seat of our emotions, but we now accept that our emotions reside in the brain, and the heart is merely a physical blood-pumping organ.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

yet I've read about those with donated heart transplants finding themselves "liking" new things, similar to the the one donating the heart...