Hamilton Naki


1926 – 2005

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Who was Hamilton Naki?

Hamilton Naki was a black laboratory assistant to white cardiac surgeon Christiaan Barnard in South Africa under apartheid. He was recognised for his surgical skills and for his being able to teach medical students and physicians such skills despite not having received a formal medical education, and took a leading role in organ transplant research on animals.

A controversy arose after his death in that at least five periodicals and the Associated Press retracted statements in their obituaries of Naki that claimed that he participated in the world's first human-to-human heart transplantation in 1967; the incident has been cited as an example of inadequate fact checking by the newsmedia and delayed corrections of the errors. Such effects remain in place, despite retractions, creating potent but baseless political myths.

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Jun 26, 1926
May 29, 2005
Cape Town

on July 23, 2013


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