How Did A Stolen Heart Make Medical History?

Doctors in an operating rom
Via Flickr
Leslie Taylor-Grover
September 23, 2020

Bruce Tucker was a hard-working family man – but now he was dead. An accident at work cracked his skull and severely damaged his brain. 

This was the 1960s, and technology was limited – but there was more to his death than just an accident.

During a celebration at work, Tucker had consumed some alcohol. When he was brought to the hospital, the doctors there noticed this, assumed he was an alcoholic, and categorized him as homeless

They never verified who he was, even though he had his business card IN HIS WALLET. There’s a reason behind this.

The doctors were in a race to gain fame as the first white doctors to successfully transplant a heart. So while Tucker’s heart was still beating, they extracted it and put it into a prominent white businessman!

The audacity doesn’t stop there.

They never notified his family of what they had done! They never got permission from anyone. They STOLE his heart – literally. So how did his family find out?

As they prepared Tucker’s body for burial, the Black funeral home discovered the transplant had occurred. The family sued and won, but money can never replace a loved one or repair the indignity he experienced.

Racism is a public health issue! Our bodies are still, too often, considered a valuable commodity in this white supremacist society.

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