James Hardy (surgeon)

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James D. Hardy
Born May 14, 1918
Newala, Alabama, U.S.
Died February 19, 2003(2003-02-19) (aged 84)
Mississippi, U.S.
Education University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia
Years active 1944–1990
Known for First human lung transplant,
first animal-to-human
heart transplant.
Medical career
Profession Surgeon, professor
Institutions Stark General Hospital, Charleston
University of Tennessee, Memphis
University of Mississippi
American College of Surgeons
Specialism Transplant Surgery

James D. Hardy (May 14, 1918 – February 19, 2003) was an American surgeon, famous for the first human lung transplant and the first animal-to-human heart transplant.[1]

Early life

Hardy grew up in Newala, Alabama, a small community in Shelby County. His father owned a lime plant in Newala. He studied at a high school in Montevallo before entering the University of Alabama for pre-medical curriculum. He received his MD in 1942 from University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia. He held the office of the president of Alpha Omega Alpha during his senior year and his first scientific publication was on wound healings.


Hardy served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps in early 1944 during the Second World War. He first worked at Stark General Hospital, Charleston in South Carolina. Hardy began writing his first book, Surgery and the Endocrine System, in 1950 which was published two years later. He was awarded the Master of Medical Science in physiological chemistry by the University of Pennsylvania in 1951 for his research on using heavy water for measuring body fluids. He became the chair of surgery at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine, Jackson in 1955. He was also the first Professor of Surgery at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine.

In 1963, Hardy led the team which first performed the human lung transplant in University of Mississippi Medical Center. On January 23, 1964, he performed the first heart transplant, in which the heart of a chimpanzee, a genetically closer animal, was transplanted into the chest of Boyd Rush (age 68), who was dying, as a last effort trying to save him, as no human heart was available. Rush died after 90 minutes. Hardy dealt with severe criticism for performing the transplant, but the operation manifested the possibility of human heart transplantation. Three years later, the first successful human-to-human heart transplantation was performed in 1967 by Christiaan Neethling Barnard. Hardy also led the team responsible for performing a double-lung transplant that left the heart in place, in 1987.

Hardy wrote 24 books, 139 book chapters, 466 papers, and produced over 200 films. Vishnevsky Institute, Moscow honored him in 1971 for his pioneering work in organ transplantation and awarded him two medals for lung transplant and heart, respectively. He has served as President of the Society of University Surgeons, the Society of Surgical Chairmen, the Southern Surgical Association, the American College of Surgeons, the American Surgical Association and the International Society of Surgery.

Personal life

Hardy married Louise Scott Sams of Decatur, Georgia in 1949; they met when he was working in Stark General Hospital in Charleston. She died from Alzheimer's disease in 2000. They had four daughters – Dr. Louise Roeska-Hardy, professor of philosophy in Heidelberg and Frankfurt, Germany, Dr. Julia Ann Hardy, psychiatrist in Michigan, Dr. Bettie Winn Hardy, clinical psychologist and director of the eating disorders program at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas and Dr. Katherine H. Little, medical director of the Diagnostic Center for Digestive Diseases at Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas.


Hardy retired from the Department of Surgery, University of Mississippi School of Medicine, Jackson, in 1987. He died at the age of 84 on February 19, 2003.


Hardy wrote an autobiography, The World of Surgery 1945–1985: Memoirs of One Participant, which was published in 1986. Apart from his autobiography, Hardy also wrote several other books including:

  • Hardy's Textbook of Surgery
  • Surgery and the Endocrine System
  • The Academic Surgeon


  1. "James D. Hardy, 84, Dies; Paved Way for Transplants – Obituary; Biography". NYTimes.com. 2003-02-21. Retrieved 2010-01-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>