Famous heart transplant patient dies

2013-12-28 12:13

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Johannesburg - The man whose heart transplant tested the medical limits of the apartheid government has died in the Eastern Cape, the Saturday Star reported.

Paul John Thesen, 48, from Knysna, was found dead in his car near the town of Alexandria on Thursday, according to the newspaper.

Friend and executor of his estate, Paddy Chapple, told the newspaper that Thesen had been admitted to hospital on Monday after crashing his beach buggy.

After checking himself out of hospital, Thesen was not seen again until his body was found.

Thesen had three hearts during his life time, one being his own, and two donor hearts.

The first was from a 13-year-old black boy, while the second came from a young white girl three years later.

Chapple said the donor's race was significant at the time as Thesen lay on the operating table for four hours while the apartheid government decided over the race issue.

It was decided when the heart left the body, it became neutral and thus Thesen's classification remained white.

Chapple said heart transplant pioneer Christiaan Barnard and his brother Marius Barnard performed the transplants on Thesen.

- Friends, colleagues and family of Paul John Thesen are invited to share their memories and tributes, and to light a candle for him, on his profile at Remembered.co.za.

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