About the Congress

The 27th Biennial Southern African Transplant Society Congress will be held from 1-3rd September 2017. The local organizing committee is based in Durban, KwaZulu Natal.


The congress aims are to...


  1. Promote and facilitate organ donation from both living and deceased donors.
  2. Maximize access to and improve outcomes of transplantation.
  3. Form the basis of a future National procurement programme.
  4. Celebrate the historic milestone of the first ever heart transplant in the world done 50 years ago in Groote Schuur hospital.
  5. Host a scientific meeting with expert international and local speakers and promote high quality research in clinical and basic sciences aspects of transplantation.
  6. Create an education and information sharing platform for scientists, physicians, surgeons, trainees, nurses and allied health practitioners caring for donors and transplant recipients.

About The South African Transplantation Society

SATS is an organization that confers unity to the entire Transplantation Community of South Africa, maintaining the status quo between a diversity of disciplines and transplant centres, creating a forum for discussion and debate.

Providing a neutral platform to engage, determine, and implement policy, particularly with respect to controversial issues, as well as providing a link between a variety of institutions and central government, allowing us to communicate with a single voice. Additionally, we act as a driving force for research, and facilitate continuing medical education and peer review on a regular basis.

SATS remains an organization that continues to evolve, forging the platform for transplantation in the years to come.

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Where and how it all began.

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Christiaan Neethling Barnard, 1922-2001

First human heart transplant: How it all began… “It is the crowning effort of a team of men and women who bring at that moment, the training of a lifetime. Structured with the inherited technique and skill of a millennium - all are fused to one objective: to replace a dying heart with a new one, to save one life.”.

The drama of the world’s first human heart transplant, led by Professor Christiaan Neethling Barnard, played out within the walls of the Charles Saint Theatre, at Groote Schuur Hospital on the 3rd December 1967. The human heart transplant, one of the greatest moments in medical history, was made possible by an extraordinary interplay of scientific dedication; human courage and generosity and a timely chain of events. Today, The Heart of Cape Town Museum honours all those who played a major role in the surgical feat that pushed the boundaries of science, into the dawn of a new medical era, an era in which it became possible to transplant the symbol of the essence of life, our human heart.  Copyright (c) | www.heartofcapetown.co.za | All rights reserved

Sunday, 3 December 1967

On 3 December 1967, South African doctor, Dr Christiaan (Chris) Barnard, performed the world's first human to human heart transplant at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town. This extraordinary event which pushed the boundaries of science into the dawn of a new medical epoch took place inside Charles Saint Theatre at Groote Schuur Hospital. After a decade of heart surgery, Barnard and his gifted cardiothoracic team of thirty (which included his brother Marius), were well equipped to perform the nine hour long operation.

The recipient was Louis Washkansky, a fifty three year old grocer with a debilitating heart condition. Washkansky received the heart of Denise Darvall, a young woman who was run over by a car on 2 December and had been declared brain dead after suffering serious brain damage. Her father, Edward Darvall agreed to the donation of his daughter's heart and kidneys. The operation started shortly after midnight on a Saturday night and was completed the next morning just before 6 a.m. when the new heart in the chest of Louis Washkansky was electrically shocked into action. After regaining consciousness he was able to talk and on occasion, to walk but his condition deteriorated and died of pneumonia eighteen days after the heart transplant.

Groote Schuur Hospital has set up the ‘Heart of Cape Town Museum’ which honours those who played a leading role in the surgical feat. Theatres A and B are the orginal theatres and have been recreated to display an authentic representation of the ground breaking operation.