Medicine: Too Many & Too Soon?

Some U.S. physicians asked last week whether the flurry of surgical virtuosity in heart transplants might be premature. A Canadian heart surgeon said it was. The Soviet Union's health ministry forbade Russian surgeons to do such transplants. Germany's Dr. Werner Forssmann, who won a Nobel Prize for dangerously daring heart research performed on himself, said: "I consider it a crime to perform an operation in a field where fundamental research is not yet finished."

Although the heart surgeons who had performed transplants obviously did not agree, they made no secret of their concern over the ethical problems involved. Dr. Shumway describes the...