Dear Colleague,

It gives us great pleasure to invite you to the celebration of the world’s first heart transplant 50 years later.

On the 3rd December 2017 it will be the 50th anniversary of the world’s first human to human heart transplant performed by Christiaan Barnard and his team in our Department at Groote Schuur Hospital and the University of Cape Town.

This was an iconic world event which captured the attention of the public and world media like no other medical advance before it,and continues to be the world’s most publicised medical event of all time. The only other comparable world iconic event of that era, and which similarly caught the attention of the world, was the Apollo landing on the moon 18 months later in July 1969.

In honour of this first heart transplant, we will be hosting a celebration titled “50 years of Heart Transplantation: Courage and Innovation”from the 2nd to the 4th of December this year.

Apart from our focus on celebrating medical advances, we wish to broaden our scope to include other innovative and courageous developments, which have similarly advanced the scope and horizons of modern human endeavour. We also wish to focus on how the great advances in medicine which were pioneered, developed and commercialized by the various pharmaceutical and medical device companies, can be expanded to reach the underprivileged areas of the world where there is such a burden of cardiovascular disease. Presently the large expense of most of these recent developments preclude their widespread use (or penetration) in the developing economies of the world

We have received tremendous interest and support for this celebratory event from some of the world’s major cardiothoracic surgery societies and journals who will be contributing to the program – these are inter-alia the European Society of Cardiothoracic Surgery (EACTS), the Society of Thoracic Surgery (STS), the American Association of Thoracic Surgery (AATs) and the International Society of Heart-Lung Transplantation (ISHLT) and these various societies’ affiliated Journals.

We also have support from some of the leading Cardiovascular Device- and Pharmaceutical companies whose CEO’s or senior staff will be joining us in the debate around how modern cardiovascular interventions can be provided to the large areas of the world where there is at present such a dearth of cardiovascular healthcare.

As this will not be a standard medical conference but rather a celebratory event, we will not be calling for abstracts and will be expecting all delegates and speakers to fund their own return transport, and their accommodation in Cape Town. The registration fee, if any, will be kept to a modest amount to cover basic costs. There will be satellite symposia around the time of the celebrations and these will function independently of the main event.

We look forward to your presence at our celebration, to participate in the event and to debate some of the challenges healthcare faces in the future.

Prof. Peter Zilla; Prof Johan Brink; Dr Tim Pennel
Christiaan Barnard Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery
University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur and Allied Academic Hospitals