40th Anniversary Flashback: The First Heart Transplant in Ottawa

February 12, 2016

To take the sick or damaged heart out of a person’s body and replace it with a healthy donor heart, often flown in from far away—the very idea of a heart transplant inspires wonder.

In May 1984, Wilbert Keon, MD, founder of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, performed the first-ever heart transplant in Ottawa. Not only was it a first for the city, it was a highly successful operation. Thanks to his new heart, the patient went on to live for many more years.

Since then, the Heart Institute has performed more than 600 transplants, in some years more than any other centre in Canada.

The care and treatment of transplant patients embodies the close-knit teamwork that is the hallmark of the Heart Institute. Cardiology, surgery, anesthesiology, critical care and rehabilitation all come together and contribute to the success and well-being of these patients. 

Watch this CBC coverage for original footage of the groundbreaking procedure:

Our 40th Anniversary Flashback series will continue throughout 2016.