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This Day in History: December 3rd

Gas leak in Bhopal, India.

The Bhopal catastrophe, also known as the Bhopal gas tragedy, was a chemical accident that occurred at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide facility in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India, during the night of December 2–3, 1984. The industrial disaster is regarded as the worst in history. Methylene isocyanate (MIC) gas was inhaled by over 500,000 people. The very hazardous chemical made its way into and around the nearby little towns. The death toll varies according to estimates, with the official number of immediate deaths being 2,259, The Madhya Pradesh government compensated the families of 3,787 people killed in the gas spill in 2008, as well as 574,366 people who were injured. 

According to a 2006 government affidavit, the leak resulted in 558,125 injuries, including 38,478 temporary partial impairments and roughly 3,900 seriously and permanently debilitating disabilities. Others believe that 8,000 perished within two weeks and that another 8,000 or more died from gas-related ailments since then.

The Bhopal gas tragedy: Toxic Legacy

Christiaan Barnard of South Africa performed the first human heart transplant, at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.

In the early hours of Sunday, December 3, 1967, Barnard completed the world’s first human-to-human heart transplant procedure. The patient was Louis Washkansky, a 54-year-old grocer with diabetes and an incurable heart disease. Barnard was helped by his brother, Marius Barnard, and a team of thirty professionals. The surgery lasted almost five hours.

Washkansky and his wife, Ann Washkansky, were told by Barnard that the transplant had an 80% probability of success. Washkansky survived the surgery and lived for 18 days before succumbing to pneumonia, probably as a result of the immunosuppressive drugs he was taking.

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