Looking for the Heart: From the History of Heart Transplant in the USSR


Despite the outstanding achievements of heart transplant in the experiment, the history of heart transplantation to patient in the USSR was surprisingly short. There were only three operations performed for 20 years. Why the attempts at a heart transplant surgery did suddenly terminate? The answer to this question is surrounded by mystery. Accordance with the documents of that period, there is the relation between the absence of cardiac transplantation operations and the personal position of the Minister of Health of the USSR Boris Petrovsky. He believed that it was immoral to take a person's heart if he did not die. In 1966, he issued the order on the prohibition of transplantation of any organs without special permission from the Ministry of Health of the USSR. But we know the names of the three surgeons who had a different opinion. Alexander Vishnevsky, Gleb Soloviev and Vladimir Burakovsky. They believed that their duty was to help patients, even if it threatened their future, but unfortunately none of their patients survived. The human heart is very sensitive and could not work after resuscitation. Only on March 12, 1987, professor Valery Shumakov for the first time successfully performed a heart transplant to a patient who lived after for about 9 years. But no one will ever know how many people were deprived of the chance to live with a new living heart in their chest to this date.

Author Information
Yana Grigoryan, I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University, The Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, Russia

Paper Information
Conference: ECAH2017
Stream: Humanities - History, Historiography

This paper is part of the ECAH2017 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon