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Plastic cool box, Germany, 1991-1993

This cool box was used to carry hearts for transplant surgery. Donor organs are removed, put in sterile plastic bags and placed in a cool box packed with ice to preserve the organs. Plain cool boxes were used so that attention would not be drawn to their contents. Hearts can be preserved in this way for four to six hours. The world’s first heart transplant took place in 1967 in South Africa and was performed by Dr Christiaan Barnard. The first heart transplant in the United Kingdom occurred on 3 May 1968 at the National Heart Hospital in London. The recipient was a Mr Frederick West, who died 46 days later.

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Glossary: cool box

An insulated container for keeping food cool.

Glossary: transplant

Surgical operation to introduce organ or tissue from one person (the donor) to another (the recipient). It may also refer to the transfer of tissues from one part of a person's body to another part of the same person's body.