November 8, 1922 - 2nd September 2001
" ... for a dying person, a transplant is not a difficult decision. If a lion chases you to a river filled with crocodiles, you will leap into the water convinced you have a chance to swim to the other side. But you would never accept such odds if there were no lion." Christiaan Barnard, heart transplant pioneer
Professor Chris Barnard, who performed the first heart transplant at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town on December 3rd 1967, was born in Beaufort West.
He is honoured in three historic buildings - all national monuments - which make up the Beaufort West Museum.
Here visitors can see Professor Barnard's humble boyhood home and visit the garden in which his ashes are buried.
The parsonage has been restored and is furnished as it was when the Barnard family lived there.
The Old Town Hall:
As the first municipality proclaimed in South Africa in 1837, Beaufort West has the oldest Town Hall in the country. It now houses the main Museum collection and one of the most popular exhibits is a representation of the first heart transplant operation, with much of the equipment used on that historic occasion.
Denise Darvall’s heart was transplanted into Louis Washkansky.
Washkansky lived another 18 days but thousands more heart transplants have followed.
The numerous awards, honourary degrees, medallions and gifts made to Chris Barnard from governments, associations and famous individuals around the world form part of the exhibitions at the Museum.
The Old Mission Church:
This was the church in which Chris Barnard's father preached and his mother played the organ.
The role played by various church denominations in the development of Beaufort West is depicted and in the vestry there is an exhibition of guns and leather clothes. Some important firearms from the early days of South African history are on display.
Museum visiting hours:
Monday to Friday: 8h30 - 12h45 and 13h45 - 16h45. Saturday: 9h00 - 12h00
Entry: R6.00 for adults and R2.00 for children
Curator: Sandra Smit
Tel: 023 415 2308 email@example.com