Heart Transplant Pioneer Dies in Chile

Por Dialogo
abril 15, 2009

Santiago de Chile, April 14 (EFE) - Chilean doctor Jorge Kaplan Meyer, a heart transplant pioneer in that country, died early this morning of heart failure, his family reported. He was 82 years old. He died at 04:10 am (08:10 GMT) at the Clínica Reñaca in the city of Viña del Mar, according to his daughter, journalist Marcela Kaplan. Medical sources indicated that Kaplan had been ill for some time. He suffered a heart attack last December, and in January he was hospitalized again for a pulmonary edema. The doctor became famous on June 28, 1968, when he led the team of surgeons at the Naval Hospital in Valparaíso who performed the first heart transplant in Chile. This was the third transplant in Latin America after others completed in Brazil and Argentina, and number 23 in the world. At that time, Kaplan operated on the young Maria Elena Peñaloza, age 24, who suffered congenital valvopathy with myocardial dilation. In an operation that lasted two hours and 49 minutes, she received the heart of 21-year-old Gabriel Veliz, who had died of a brain tumor. Kaplan was also a man committed to the restoration of democracy in Chile during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) and participated actively in politics, being elected councilor of Viña del Mar in 1996 and serving as mayor between 2000 and 2004.