A real horror story.

2 11 2007

Vladimir P. Demikhov, 82, Pioneer in Transplants, Dies

Published: November 25, 1998

Vladimir P. Demikhov, a Russian surgeon whose pioneering work in performing organ transplants on dogs set the stage for similar operations on humans in later years, died on Sunday. He was 82 and lived in a small apartment on Moscow’s outskirts.

The Itar-Tass news agency, which reported his death, said it came after a long illness. But the agency did not report what caused his death or where he died.

Itar-Tass said Dr. Demikhov was the first to perform a heart transplant on a dog, in 1946. The agency reported that the dog, which kept its old heart and the new one, survived for five months. In 1947, the agency said, Dr. Demikhov carried out the first animal lung transplant, which was also performed on a dog; and in 1952 he conducted the first coronary bypass, on another dog.

Asked about Itar-Tass’s account, Dr. Dennis L. Franco, a Yale Medical School professor of surgery who does organ transplants, said that he would not dispute that Dr. Demikhov was the first to do these operations, although skimpy record-keeping makes it hard to document….”

“One Friday in August 1962 Warren Thomas, director of Lincoln Park Zoo in Oklahoma City, raised his rifle and took aim at Tusko the elephant. With a squeeze of the trigger he scored a direct hit on the animal’s rump, firing a cartridge full of the hallucinogenic drug LSD into the animal’s bloodstream.

The dose was 3,000 times what a human might take for recreational purposes, and the results were extraordinary. Tusko charged around and trumpeted loudly for a few minutes before keeling over dead.

Thomas and his colleagues maintained the mishap was the result of a scientific experiment to investigate whether LSD brought on an unusual condition in which elephants become aggressive and secrete a sticky fluid from their glands. In a report of the incident submitted to the US journal Science four months later, the team concluded: “It appears that the elephant is highly sensitive to the effects of LSD.”

The case of Tusko the elephant is among 10 of the most bizarre experiments carried out in the quest for knowledge and reported in New Scientist magazine today. If there is a fine line between madness and genius, many of those involved firmly crossed it…”


“Vladimir Demikhov, first to transplant an auxiliary heart into the chest of a warm-blooded animal, first to replace the heart with a homograft, first to carry out a pulmonary transplantation, first to perform a complete heart and lung replacement, and first to perform a successful internal mammary-coronary anastomosis, deserves a place among the great experimental surgeons of all times. He has not had the widespread recognition he earned.”

A surgeon to remember: notes about Vladimir Demikhov.




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