Coming up on Special Assignment
Surgeon and GardenerBroadcast date:
Tuesday, 2 June 2009
In December 1967, Professor Chris Barnard performed the world’s first heart transplant at Groote Schuur hospital in Cape Town.
But did he?
Tonight Special Assignment presents the documentary, Hidden Heart which explores the role of Hamilton Naki, a former gardener at Groote Schuur, in an event that pummeled South Africa into the international spotlight.
A self-taught surgeon who learned his craft in Groote Schuur’s animal research laboratory, he was awarded the National Order of Mapungubwe by former President Thabo Mbeki in 2002.
Naki’s contribution towards pioneering organ transplantation in South Africa is well-known and documented. But how much did he have to do with the historic operation? In this documentary, Naki, who is now dead, makes a startling claim: he personally removed the heart of the dead donor, and handed it to Barnard for the transplant.
Special Assignment looks back at the story of Chris Barnard and Hamilton Naki. The show speaks to theatre staff who were there that night, and asks them about Hamilton Naki’s claim.
The programme also interviews the film’s director, to ask what motivated her interest in the story.
Special Assignment is on SABC3 on Tuesdays at 20h31.