"Fifty years ago today, Groote Schuur Hospital was placed on centre stage in the world's spotlight when Professor Christiaan Neethling Barnard performed the first human heart transplant on Mr Louis Washkansky, who sadly only lived for 18 days, succumbing in the end to pneumonia. Since then, other medical advances have been made. In 1982 the first heart and lung transplant took place and five years later, brain tissue was first transplanted.
There have been so many medical advances in all directions since the 'Second World War', but none have symbolically touched the nation as much as removing the living heart of a dead person and putting it in a living patient.
Too often, humans concentrate too much on procedures and processes instead of the substance. There is a tendency to miss out on the association between the physical and the spiritual transplant that takes place within any human who 'gives their heart to another', under whatever circumstances or conditions.
Just as receiving a physical heart transplant can undoubtedly give the benefactor new life, so can the smallest to the greatest act of human interaction from smiling, hugging, listening, kissing, understanding, holding hands, sharing and loving another. When we do all these things, we are effectively giving our heart to another.
Christmas is about so many different things to many people. Some love the presents, the excess of fine food and drink it brings, the work's parties, the festive revelling and the merriment. Some people cannot stand Christmas time and are pleased once it has passed!
And then, there are those like me, who love the closeness that Christmas brings us towards each other's needs and presence; the hot chestnuts, the mince pies and the mull wine to be had on the cold cobbles of Main Street, the carol singers and brass bands in the cold, fresh December air, attending Midnight Mass and shaking hands with all our family and friends.
It is this very concept of genuine closeness and the giving which lasts beyond the season that underpins the festive trinity; Christ, Christianity and Christmas. Jesus gave his life for us that we might live, and He gave his heart to us that we might love. Then, we were given the two greatest commandments; to love the Lord, our God with our whole heart and to love our neighbour as ourselves. I have always understood the essence of these commandments to simply mean Jesus as having said, 'Now look here! I have given you life and I have given you my heart, not to selfishly keep to yourself. No! I gave you life and I gave you my heart so that you could give them back to me, as well as devoting your life and heart to all others. Get it, Buster?' Merry Christmas everyone." William Forde: December 3rd, 2017.