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1983: PBS Broadcasts Live Open Heart Surgery

By Max / Published on Tuesday, 23 Feb 2021 19:53 PM / No Comments / 20 views

On this day in 1983, 97 PBS stations across the country broadcast television’s first live open-heart surgery during a special entitled The Operation.

During the program, co-produced by Phoenix PBS affiliate KAET and the Arizona Heart Institute, viewers watched Dr. Edward Diethrich and his 12-member surgical crew repair the heart of retired insurance salesman Bernard Schuler. In addition to offering occasional narrative (along with two non-operating show hosts) Diethrich answered several call-in questions from viewers.

KAET followed the groundbreaking broadcast with telecasts of additional, pre-taped surgeries.

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