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Journal Article

Trampled in the Rush: Ethical Casualties in the First Australian Heart Transplants

John Carmody
Health and History
Vol. 16, No. 2 (2014), pp. 87-106
DOI: 10.5401/healthhist.16.2.0087
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5401/healthhist.16.2.0087
Page Count: 20
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Trampled in the Rush: Ethical Casualties in the First Australian Heart Transplants
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Abstract

When the first Australian heart transplant was performed in 1968, notions of medical ethics were primitive by today's standards, and principally consisted of courtesies to colleagues. Medical ethics had probably never been seriously considered in the media. Neither the authorities at St Vincent's Hospital nor the media (especially the ABC) conducted themselves with much credit when the first Australian heart transplant was conducted in Sydney in October 1968. The press behaved better when Melbourne doctors followed suit in November that year, but the clinicians there did not perform well. Subsequently, medical ethics has had to respond to the imperatives of transplantation and other procedures which have changed the face of clinical work. This shift has been supported by the insistence of funding bodies and legislation enacted to cover some of those issues, though the question of its efficacy remains.

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