29 years ago, I watched him get a new heart ...

THE INQUIRER AND MIRROR | Karen Garlock, The Charlotte Observer


Reporter checks in with man whose transplant operation she watched. Even today, transplanting a heart is a big deal. But in 1987, the Charlotte program was less than two years old. As a young health writer, I was excited to don a gown and mask and witness this unusual procedure up close.

Twenty-nine years ago this month, I watched in wonder as surgeons at Carolinas Medical Center performed a heart transplant on a 48-year-old man.

Even today, transplanting a heart is a big deal. But in 1987, the Charlotte program was less than two years old. As a young health writer, I was excited to don a gown and mask and witness this unusual procedure up close.

When I entered the operating room, the patient, whose name I did not know, was on the table. His chest had been cut open, and his diseased heart had already been removed. The donor heart, from a 35-year-old man in Asheville, had just arrived in a red and white Igloo cooler. I stood nearby as the surgeons connected the healthy new organ to the patient's blood vessels.

Two weeks later, the Charlotte Observer published my article, "Man-Made Miracle." I didn't think much more about that patient – until a few weeks ago. Continue reading
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