When Christiaan Barnard performed the world’s first human-to-human heart transplant in December, 1967, in South Africa, the operation was regarded as a great victory for science, much as the first moon landing would two years later.
Barnard achieved close to rock star status and became an international celebrity. Yet the idea of an organ transplant, regarded as either a miracle or a kind of magic that half-century ago, has become unremarkable.
Tens of thousands of people have had life-transforming transplants, because of the pioneering work of people such as Barnard and many others.
That great advance was recognised yesterday, when the Irish Heart and Lung Transplant Association honoured Sligo woman Vera Dwyer, who is the world’s longest lung transplant survivor.
A great-grandmother, she underwent a pioneering lung transplant operation in London in 1988.
She has used every opportunity to encourage us all to carry a donor card, so others might enjoy the life-saving opportunity she was given all those years ago.
There is no good reason not to.