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The Sydney Morning Herald


Author: David Dale
Date: 18/10/1999
Words: 639
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: News And Features
Page: 22
Surgery The beat goes on

Sydney's heart should give a little skip next Saturday to mark the 31st anniversary of Australia's first heart transplant. Surgeon Harry Windsor did it on October 23, 1968, at St Vincent's Hospital, to 57-year-old Richard Pye, who died within six weeks - as did our second heart recipient in 1974. By 1984, effective immuno-suppressant drugs had been developed, and Victor Chang restarted the transplant program, first with Peter Apthorpe, who lasted seven years, and then with Fiona Coote, who's still sprightly. St Vincent's has done 556 transplants, and more than 300 people are alive today who would otherwise be dead. The hospital averages 25 heart transplants a year, and recipients usually go home within 10 days. So far this year, only 16 people have received St Vincent's hearts, because there's a shortage. But there's a battery-powered heart that lets you go back to work while you wait for a donor. In America, getting hearts is easier - most donors are gunshot victims.

Transport All the way with Robin A

This was the week Sydney gave a rude welcome to a US president, and a premier created an immortal line. On Oct 21, 1966, president Lyndon Baines Johnson hit town as part of a tour designed to thank Australia for sending troops to Vietnam. As he drove along Liverpool Street, protesters (including a young Jennie George, who grew up to be president of the ACTU) threw themselves in front of the car. Sitting with Johnson was the NSW Liberal premier Robin Askin, who revealed later that he told Fred Longbottom, Special Branch head, to "run over the bastards" or "ride over the bastards" (Askin gave two different versions). Supposedly this remark amused LBJ, although his only public comment later was: "I have looked into the faces of the crowds and I can tell that 90 per cent of them are with me." In his last interview in 1981, Askin said the line was the one quote for which he was most remembered.

Beaches Not drowning, waving

Today is a proud anniversary for the lifesavers of Sydney. On October 18, 1907, the mayors of Manly, Randwick and Waverly organised a meeting of seven lifesaving clubs and formed the Surf Bathing Association of NSW. Two years earlier they would have been breaking the law. Through the early years of the century, surf buffs had risked jail by campaigning to overthrow an ancient ban on beach bathing during daylight hours. Once the law was removed (in 1906), the surfers' clubs took on the job of saving those who used their new freedom too eagerly. Today, there are 36 surf lifesaving clubs in Sydney, with 3,662 members, of whom 696 patrol the beaches. Last summer they did 4,957 rescues, which is the figure most worth celebrating.

Heritage Set sail for jail

If your name is Smith, Jones, Cooper, Williams or Roberts, you can plausibly claim to be descended from convicts, since they were the most common names among the 69,000 men and 16,000 women transported between 1788 and 1840. Today, the Hyde Park Barracks museum in Macquarie Street opens an exhibition about convicts, revealing that some countries still practise transportation (Italy, for example, sends prisoners to an island called Pianosa, while Mexico sends them to the Marias Islands). The exhibition shows that Sydney's youngest convict was Johnny Dwyer, aged 9, transported for stealing a watch in 1830. He didn't live long enough to have descendants, dying in Port Macquarie in 1836. These days a mere 2,300 convicts are kept in Sydney's 11 jails and detention centres.

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