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December 20, 1985

The Case of Baby Fae

Author Affiliations

Cook County Hospital University of Illinois College of Medicine Chicago; College of Physicians and Surgeons Columbia University New York

JAMA. 1985;254(23):3358-3359. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360230090031

Appearing in this issue of The Journal is the first full scientific report of the "case of Baby Fae"—cardiac xenotransplantation in a neonate. Many emotional editorial comments about this case have appeared in the lay press and in respected scientific publications. Critical editorial commentary by peers, based on an impartial analysis of the scientific gathering of the facts, is now appropriate.

The infant, born prematurely with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, an invariably fatal form of congenital heart disease, received the heart of a young female baboon in an uncomplicated surgical procedure on Oct 26, 1984. At the time of transplantation the infant was critically ill, and urgent surgical intervention was required if she was to survive even for a brief interval. Based on his own evaluation of the alternatives, Dr Bailey had offered xenotransplantation to the mother. The alternatives were three: a risky palliative surgical procedure, the Norwood procedure,1