World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Denise Darvall

Article Id: WHEBN0001237680
Reproduction Date:

Title: Denise Darvall  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Philip Blaiberg, Louis Washkansky, Christiaan Barnard, 1967 deaths, List of South Africans
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Denise Darvall

Denise Ann Darvall (27 February 1942 – 3 December 1967)[1] was the donor in the world’s first successful human heart transplant, performed at Groote Schuur Hospital, South Africa, by a team of surgeons led by Christiaan Barnard.


Darvall was seriously injured in a car accident on Main Road in Observatory, Cape Town. She and her family were visiting friends for afternoon tea and went shopping for cake. They were run over by a drunk driver who failed to see them. Her mother died immediately. Darvall sustained a skull fracture and severe head injuries, after the car flung her across the road and her head hit the wheel cap of her own car. She could not stay alive without life support, and was essentially brain dead. At 9 p.m. on the day of the accident, the resuscitation team stopped trying to revive her.

Declaration of death

Surgeons had a serious ethical problem because death then could only be declared by whole-body standards. The Harvard Criteria of Brain Death did not begin until 1968. The problem in this case was that, although Denise's brain was damaged, her heart was healthy. Various reports over the years attributed conflicting reasons for her heart stopping. For forty years, Barnard's brother Marius kept a secret: that rather than wait for her heart to stop beating, at Marius’s urging, Christiaan had injected potassium into Denise’s heart to paralyze it and thus, to render her technically dead by the whole-body standard.[2]

Organ donation

After her father gave his consent, Darvall's heart was donated to Louis Washkansky. Her kidneys were given to 10-year-old Jonathan van Wyk. Due to the apartheid era, the kidney donation to Van Wyk was controversial[3] because he was coloured, while Denise was white.

See also


  1. ^ ancestry42
  2. ^ Donald McRae, "Every Second Counts: The Race to Transplant the First Human Heart," New York, Putnam, 2006, p. 192.
  3. ^ Malan, M. "Darvall, Denise". South Africa History. Retrieved 30 May 2015. 


  • Christiaan Barnard and Curtiss Bill Pepper, "One Life," MacMillan, New York, 1969.
  • Christiaan Barnard, "The Second Life," Vlaeberg Publishers, South Africa, 1993.

External links

  • South African history: Denise Darvall
  • Groote Schuur Hospital account of Washkansky’s heart transplant
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.