Article ID: CBB001202335

Considering Death: The Third British Heart Transplant, 1969 (2014)


On May 29, 1969, London’s newspapers carried dramatic headlines: “Donor’s Heart ‘Switched Off’ by Doctors.” Margaret Sinsbury had died in Guy’s Hospital, after which her heart was removed and transplanted. This, the third British heart transplant, crystallized the deep concerns that were by then swirling around the wider transplant enterprise, notably whether the people from whom organs were being taken were dead or had been made so. Yet a year earlier, to reassure the public in this regard, a formula had been devised at the U.K. Health Ministries’ MacLennan Conference to enable death to be certified based on cerebral rather than cardiac indicators. This was the first such formula in the English-speaking world, and it included safeguards to protect the interests of dying patients who were considered to be potential organ donors. However, the third British heart transplant revealed these protections to be a chimera, and brought such operations there to a halt for a decade.

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Authors & Contributors
Boyle, Marjorie O'Rourke
Nathoo, Ayesha
English, Terence A. H.
Miller, Franklin G.
Wispelwey, Bram P.
Jotkowitz, Alan B.
Perspectives in Biology and Medicine
Social History of Medicine
History and Technology
Journal of Literature and Science
Health and History
Mefisto: Rivista di medicina, filosofia, storia
Palgrave Macmillan
Oxford University Press
Duke University Press
University of Chicago Press
Cornell University Press
Medicine and ethics
Medicine and culture
Doctor-patient relationships
Organ transplantation
Harvey, William
English, Terence A. H.
Beecher, Henry Knowles
Beeson, Paul Bruce
Glick, Shimon
Burchell, Howard Bertram
Time Periods
20th century, late
20th century
21st century
17th century
20th century, early
London (England)
Great Britain
United States
Royal College of Surgeons, London
United States. Food and Drug Administration
American College of Cardiology

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