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November 24, 1989

Two surgeons who dared are still chasing their dreams

JAMA. 1989;262(20):2904-2916. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430200148045

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FIVE years ago, the world held its breath while two bold surgeons gambled with experimental procedures in desperate attempts to save human lives.

On October 26, 1984, at the Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, Calif, Leonard Bailey, MD, took the walnut-sized heart of a baboon and implanted it to replace the failing heart of a 12-day-old girl who would become known to the world as "Baby Fae." Three weeks later, on November 15, at Humana Hospital—Audubon in Louisville, Ky, William DeVries, MD, implanted a plastic-and-aluminum artificial heart to replace the failing heart of 54-year-old William J. Schroeder. It was DeVries' second such procedure. The original artificial-heart patient pioneer, dentist Barney C. Clark, had died at the University of Utah Medical Center in March 1983 after surviving 112 days with the man-made pump.

Sadly, the surgeons failed to save either Baby Fae or Bill Schroeder.

Baby Fae died