Barnard postmortem is delayed

NICOSIA (Reuters) – A postmortem to establish the cause of death of South African heart surgeon Christiaan Barnard will probably be delayed until tomorrow, Cypriot medical sources said yesterday. Barnard, 78, lost consciousness and died on Sunday as he was lounging by a swimming pool at a hotel in the western Cypriot resort of Paphos. Cypriot health officials said they were almost certain the pioneering heart transplant surgeon died of cardiac arrest. But Barnard’s agent, Walter Lutschinger, who is in Cyprus, said Barnard might have suffered an asthma attack, but said he would know more about the cause of death later in the day. What I heard from eyewitnesses was that it was an asthma attack… But I will be able to tell you more this afternoon. We are going to the hospital now, Lutschinger told Reuters. A state pathologist said she was waiting for Barnard’s associates from Austria and South Africa before performing the postmortem. It will not take place today. I think by Wednesday, pathologist Eleni Antoniou told Reuters. A South African colleague of Barnard and associates from Vienna had asked to be present during the postmortem, she said. Barnard, who was a regular visitor to Cyprus, lost consciousness as he was lying on a swimming pool lounge chair in sweltering heat on Sunday morning. He had checked in alone into a single room at a plush five-star hotel on the Paphos coast three days earlier. Bystanders, including another doctor, rushed to his aid but he failed to respond to any attempts to revive him. Barnard made medical history in December 1967 with the world’s first human heart transplant on Louis Washkansky. The 53-year-old grocer lived for another 18 days before dying of pneumonia. The total outlay ranges from 885.6 billion to 1,288 trillion drachmas, most of which is spent by parents of senior high-school pupils, who cost their parents a total of 310 to 454 billion drachmas annually.

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