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|May 20, 2019|
Cancer claims infant heart transplant pioneer Dr. Leonard Bailey
LOMA LINDA – (INT) – Renowned heart transplant pioneer Dr. Leonard Bailey died Sunday of cancer at the age of 76.
His passing followed that of his wife, Nancy, last month.
Dr. Bailey performed a controversial procedure in 1984 at the Loma Linda University Medical Center when he implanted a baboon’s heart into an infant known as ‘Baby Fae’. She lived for 21 days.
The procedure sharply divided the medical community and brought protest from animal rights groups, some of which sent protestors to the university and called the procedure “ghoulish tinkering” with human and animal life, media reports stated.
The next day, 41-year-old Bailey spoke at a news conference. Time magazine reported him as fighting back tears and saying, "Infants with heart disease yet to be born will someday soon have the opportunity to live, thanks to the courage of this infant and her parents."
The pioneering endeavor paved the way by November 1985 for the first successful human-to-human infant heart transplantation in 4-day-old ‘Baby Moses.’
Dr. Bailey became an authority on congenital infant heart transplants and performed 376 procedures.
His lifesaving contributions have transformed Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital into the world’s leading pediatric heart transplant center.
Last May, the Loma Linda University (LLU) School of Medicine presented a Lifetime Service Award to alumnus Dr. Bailey, during a commencement ceremony.
“When we operate on these babies, the hope is that they will live longer than us. It’s nice to know that’s playing out,” Bailey said in 2017 after a 36-year-old former patient visited him. “Often when we start a case we thank the Almighty that He has put us in this position to help and that the outcomes will be according to His will.”
A memorial service is being planned, LLU said in a statement Sunday and details will be released when they are set.
Story Date: May 13, 2019