LOMA LINDA, Calif. (AP) — Dr. Leonard Bailey, who in 1984 transplanted a baboon heart into a newborn dubbed “Baby Fae” in a pioneering operation that earned him both worldwide praise and condemnation, has died.
Loma Linda University Health says Bailey was 76 when he died Sunday of cancer.
The health organization runs the hospital east of Los Angeles where Bailey performed the cross-species transplant, hoping to save the life of a 12-day-old girl with a terminal heart defect.
Baby Fae died 21 days later but the operation made global news. Bailey was acclaimed for advancing the science of infant heart research but animal rights activists called him ghoulish. He was deluged with threats and hate mail.
The next year, Bailey performed the first successful human infant-to-infant transplant. He went on to perform hundreds more.