fifty years ago October 6, 1971 Archives

From the Archives (October 6, 1971): Baboon used to save patient’s life

Chicago, Oct. 5: Three doctors today explained how they used a baboon in a 5½ hour emergency operation which may have helped to save the life of a 49-year-old alcoholic suffering from hepatitis. The patient came out of a three-day coma after his blood was circulated through the baboon’s liver, the doctors reported in the journal of the American Medical Association. Drs. Daniel Hollander, Gerald Klebanoff and Robert Osteen said the patient, who had been a heavy drinker for 15 years, was admitted to Wilford Hall Medical Centre at Lackland Air Force Base, Sap Antonio, Texas in July, 1970. The baboon was placed beside the patient’s bed and an artery and veins were linked to those of the baboon. Ten hours after the cross-circulation of blood, the patient showed dramatic improvement in his mental status, but then suffered a relapse. A total transfusion of human blood was then completed and a day later the patient began to recover, the researchers said. Thirty-six hours after the cross-circulation, the patient was able to follow simple command and answer simple questions, the doctor said.

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