Christiaan Barnard (8 November 1922 – 2 September 2001) was a South African cardiac surgeon who performed the world’s first successful human-to-human heart transplant in 1967. He grew up in the Western Cape, matriculated at Beaufort West High in 1940 and went on to study medicine at the University of Cape Town, obtaining his MB ChB in 1945, Master of Medicine in 1953 and DPhil in 1958.

He completed some of his postgraduate training in cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Minnesota and described the two years he spent in the USA as “the most fascinating time of his life.” On returning to South Africa in 1958, Christiaan was appointed as a cardiothoracic surgeon at the Groote Schuur Hospital, establishing the hospital’s first heart unit, and soon gained promotion to Head of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at UCT.