Louis Washkansky (1913 - December 21, 1967) is best known for being the recipient of the world's first human heart transplant.
Washkansky was a Lithuanian Jew. His family moved to South Africa in 1922, when he was nine years old, and he became a grocer in Cape Town. Washkansky saw active service in World War II in East and North Africa and Italy. After the war, he married his wife Ann.
Washkansky was an avid sportsman. He took part in soccer, swimming, and weightlifting. However, late in his life his health declined substantially. He was diabetic, and he had an incurable heart disease that caused him to have three heart attacks. The last of these heart attacks led to congestive heart failure.
He received his heart transplant on 3rd December 1967, at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa. The donor was Denise Darvall, who had recently been killed in an automobile accident, and the procedure was performed by Christiaan Barnard. It was a success, but Washkansky had a weakened immune system and died of double pneumonia eighteen days after the transplant. Barnard did later heart transplants during his career, and his patients were able to live longer and longer; the last lived 24 years after his transplant.