The first heart transplant surgery was in 1967 in Cape Town, South Africa. After a 25-year-old woman died in a car accident, her heart was given to a 55-year-old man. Unfortunately, the man died only 18 days later.
Rejection was common in early surgeries with most patients not lasting more than a couple of weeks, so not many were performed. In the coming decades, meticulous tissue-matching and improved medications increased survival rates.
Today, recipients of donated hearts have a survival rate of 90% after one year and 74% after five years.
Via IFL Science!