50 years ago, on January 4, 1969, in the clinic of the Medical Academy of Łódź, Polish heart surgeon Jan Witold Moll performed surgery, aiming to transplant a human heart.
The pioneering attempt was undertaken only 13 months after the first heart transplantation in the world, performed by Professor Christiaan Barnard in Cape Town, South Africa. The attempt failed but the efforts of Mr Moll helped to pave the way for other Polish cardiac surgeons, including the legendary Zbigniew Religa from the Zabrze Clinic. The latter performed the first successful Polish heart transplant in 1985.
After studying heart surgery in Minneapolis, USA and visiting the famous heart surgery Houston clinic led by Professor Michael De Bakey, Jan Witold Moll tried to apply the knowledge and experience he had obtained in Poland.
In 1953 he constructed, with the help of engineers from the Hipolit Cegielski Works in Poznań, the first Polish artificial lung machine for extracorporeal circulation). He was also the first in Poland to implant an artificial aortic valve as well as the first aortal-coronary bridges (by-passes).
Jan Witold Moll died in 1990 in Wrocław, aged 77.