Cape Town - The South African Mint, a wholly owned subsidiary of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), has created a commemorative silver coin in honour of the world’s first successful human-to-human heart transplant 50 years ago.
Sunday, December 3, marked 50 years since the world’s first heart transplant was performed in Cape Town in 1967. An event that has been immortalised under the Mint’s ‘South African Inventions’ coin programme into a R2 Crown and 2½ c Tickey coin.
The first successful heart transplant surgery patient was 53-year-old Louis Washkansky, a man who suffered congestive heart failure. While Washkansky only lived a few weeks and succumbed to post-surgery complications, the event was influential in the history of organ transplantation.
According to a statement, the obverse of the two coins remains unchanged, with the national flower, the King Protea, occupying the central position along with the words "South Africa" and the year "2017".
'We are honoured to issue this collectable range commemorating South Africans, our events and institutions. These coins not only celebrate notable aspects of our history but also serve to draw attention to our inventiveness, ” said SA Mint MD Tumi Tshelo.
The reverse of the R2 sterling-silver coin depicts a detailed human torso with all its veins, skeleton, organs and a prominent circle indicating the position of the heart.
The circle is a placeholder for the smaller Tickey coin which is designed to fit into the supposed cavity of the human chest, simulating a "heart transplant", according to the SA Mint.
The reverse of the 2½ c sterling-silver Tickey depicts the human heart, the metal composition of the coin, the letters "CNB", which stand for Chris Neethling Barnard, the head surgeon behind the first successful human heart transplant and the denomination ‘2½ c’.
According to the statement, only 1 000 of the 2017 South African Inventions sterling-silver individual R2 crown coins and 1 000 of the single 2½ c sterling-silver Tickey coins will be produced, and only 700 of the 2017 coin sets, comprising of a R2 crown-sized coin, and a 2½ c Tickey coin, accompanied by a sterling-silver model of a human heart will be produced.
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