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1989: New heart for newborn baby

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Revolutionary emergency surgery is performed on baby boy Wesley Behm on Aug. 3, 1989. Dr. Wilbert Keon of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute breaks new ground by performing the first Canadian neo-natal heart transplant on the 11-day-old infant. After a trouble-free pregnancy, he weighed in at a healthy eight and a half pounds. Shortly after his delivery, however, it was discovered that the left side of his heart was seriously underdeveloped. Without a transplant, he would live just a few short months. CBC News has this report of Behm's recovery and homecoming.

• While doctors have the facilities and knowledge to perform these operations, it is difficult to find infant donors.

• Paul Gabriel Bailey Holc received a heart transplant just three hours after birth in California, setting a world record.

• After Behm's birth, doctors heard a strange rustling sigh in his chest. Doctors subsequently discovered that his left ventricle was damaged, preventing his heart from pumping blood to the rest of the body.

• In March 2001, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute held its 10th telethon, raising $3,403,102. Wesley and the Behm family were in attendance to mark the celebration.

• A trailblazer in the field, Dr. Keon also completed the first artificial heart transplant in Canada in 1986. He has received numerous awards including the Orders of Canada and Ontario. He was appointed to the Senate of Canada during Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's term.

• In 1999, 167 heart transplants were performed in Canada.

• A Canadian group of scientists developed the world's first pacemaker in 1950.

• Canada's first heart transplant was performed at the Montreal Heart Institute in 1968.

Also on August 3:
1751: Bartholomew Green Jr. sets up the first printing press in Canada in Halifax. The Halifax Gazette is published the following March.
1961: Saskatchewan Premier Tommy Douglas is elected leader of the federal New Democratic Party at its founding convention in Ottawa.
1996: Donovan Bailey anchors Canada's victory in the men's 4X100m relay final at the Atlanta Olympics. Bailey and teammates Robert Esmie, Glenroy Gilbert and Bruny Surin beat the United States in the race.
Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television News
Broadcast Date: Sept. 19, 1989
Reporter: Maureen Taylor
Duration: 1:17

Last updated: July 22, 2014

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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