February 10, 2006
Heart surgery pioneer Shumway dies in Calif.
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Norman Shumway, who performed the
first U.S. heart transplant, died on Friday a day after his
83rd birthday from complications related to cancer, Stanford
South African Christiaan Barnard performed the world's
first human heart transplant in Cape Town in December 1967, but
the patient lived for only 18 days. Shumway undertook the first
U.S. heart transplant the next year.
Most early heart transplant patients did not live long, as
their bodies eventually either rejected the new hearts or
became infected. During the 1970s, Shumway, who successfully
transplanted dog hearts in 1966, was credited with developing
new techniques that lower the chance of rejection, sharply
improving transplant survival rates.
Born in Michigan in 1923, Shumway received his medical
degree from Vanderbilt University in 1949 and a Ph.D. from the
University of Minnesota in 1956. He served in the U.S. Army
during World War Two and the Air Force during the Korean War.
Shumway began a nearly half-century association with
Stanford University in 1958, working initially as an instructor
in surgery. Most recently he was an emeritus professor in
He died at home in Palo Alto south of San Francisco.