Heart Transplants and Ostriches, oh my!

We’ve come to Doppio Zero, a local Italian restaurant, for some dinner. Of course, given that Doppio Zero has the only free wi-fi we’ve seen since being in the States, we’re all buried in our laptops, typing frantically. Kind of funny I suppose, but we’ve all got a lot to write about.

Today we visited the Heart Transplant Museum at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. In 1967, Christiaan Neethling Barnard led a South African team in performing the world’s first heart transplant, beating out Americanscientists by a matter of days. Although some forty years have passed, today surgeons use the same procedure as Barnard (a procedure that Dr.’s Shumway and Lower had originally developed). The museum was fantastic, complete with life-sized silicon replicas of the surgical team at work (courtesy Madame Toussaudes), which you can actually see on the website. They were definitely a little creepy, particularly the model of Louis Washkansky (the first transplant recipient)  which stared straight at you when you rounded the corner into his room. Our guide admitted that she sometimes got a little spooked closing up the museum by herself at night, and I shuddered at the thought.

After the museum we headed out to the West Coast Ostrich Show Farm to learn about ostriches. A little random–but very cool. Our guide was very knowledgeable and before long we were joking about how easily an ostrich could disembowel us if it got angry. We were allowed to feed the ostriches and we’ve got some great pictures of us feeding (and trying to dodge) them. My favorite is probably the one of Kenneth in shock after one of the Kenyan ostriches got a little too aggressive going after the corn. Towards the end of the tour, the guide and another man collared an ostrich by the name of Michael Jackson and allowed us to climb on top of him. We all took pictures with Michael, who did his best to look dignified despite being mounted by a quick succession of six American tourists.

By the time we made it back to the hotel, we were all exhausted. It’s been a busy few days and we fly out to Durban tomorrow morning. Hopefully I’ll be able to get pictures up soon.

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