Baby Fae’s Heart Transplant

Stephanie Fae Beauclair, better known as Baby Fae, became the first infant to receive a heart transplant from a baboon on October 26, 1984. Baby Fae was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a condition which at the time was fatal without a heart transplant. In this video, hospital staff recall both celebrating the success of the procedure and the intense media scrutiny that surrounded it. Baby Fae’s transplant became a hotly contested ethical debate. Animal rights activists were staunchly against the procedure. Of the hospital’s motivation, Director of Patient Care Marie Whisman Hodgkins says: “The staff weren’t coming from that because they had worked with babies with severe heart defects. They had worked with babies that had gone through attempted surgical repairs for the left hypoplastic. They all had worked with Dr. Bailey. Again, all the intentions and the rationale behind this surgery were not even a question for them. We were going to help a baby.” While the procedure itself was successful, Baby Fae ultimately rejected the heart and passed away 3 weeks after the procedure on November 15, 1984.

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Submitted by: Ilana Faber
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