Addenbrooke’s’ first open-heart operation

On the 10 January 1975 Addenbrooke’s first open-heart operation took place. The operation was on a 15 year old boy and was the first of six planned at Addenbrooke’s.

The previous year the Hospitals Medical Committee had set up a programme to provide experience and training in open-heart surgery for medical, nursing and other staff. The experience gained from the programme would in the future enable patients requiring this type of surgery and admitted through the accident service, as a result of a car crash or other types of emergency could now undergo surgery at Addenbrooke’s without having to be transported across the county to Papworth.

Ist open heart op Jan 1975The Hospital Archives holds the hospitals Operation Registers dating from 1933 up to today. The records are closed for public access but I did find the operation listed in the register for Theatre 8. The procedure was for a ‘closure of atrial septal defect’

Mr Terence English was the surgeon and he was assisted by Prof Calne and Mr Paul McMaster. There was much speculation at the time in the press about the operations, but a hospital spokesman was reported as saying that there were no immediate plans for heart transplant operations to be carried out at Addenbrooke’s.

Mr English, (later Sir Terence), was Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon at Papworth Hospital and Addenbrooke’s Hospital, from 1973–1995. He performed Britain’s first successful heart transplant in January 1979 at Papworth.



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