Louis Washkansky had a bad heart – his literal heart, the one that pumps blood throughout the body.  In 1967, the South African was 53 years old and had already had three heart attacks.  The third attack all but destroyed his heart.  He was referred to the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town where a team of cardiologists lead by Dr. Christian Barnard asked him is he was willing to undergo a new surgery, never before attempted in a human, a heart transplant.  Washkansky was informed that he had no chance to live with his heart in such bad condition.  He agreed to the surgery.

     The first heart transplant was performed On December 3, 1967.  Dennis Darvall, age 25, had just been killed in a car accident.  Dr. Barnard and his team took out his heart and used it to replace Washkansky’s.  The surgery lasted for nine hours.  The transplanted heart worked, but the patient died 18 days later of pneumonia.  At the time, the world was amazed that such a procedure was possible.  I was 12 at the time and remember the newscasts.  It was really something.

     Today, of course, heart transplants are quite routine.   Every year 3,500 people receive heart transplants.  Former Vice-President Dick Cheney got his on March 24, 2012.  Two recipients lived longer than 30 years after receiving their pre-owned hearts.  What a wonderful gift.  Everyone should consider being an organ donor.

     The down side of all this is that someone has to die before a heart can be available so that another might live.  Exactly what happened on the cross.  Jesus had to die so that a new heart could be made available to the doomed.  Because we are born into sin, we suffer from congenital heart failure.  Our spiritual hearts (souls) are flawed beyond repair and our only hope is that they can be replaced. 

     The good news is that anyone who wants a new and perfect heart can have one.  There is no need for any surgery.  Jesus called himself the Great Physician, much greater than any heart surgeon.  Anyone who receives a heart transplant in a hospital will eventually die.  The new heart that Jesus has to give is eternal.  John 3:16 says this:  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes on Him shall not perish but shall have eternal life.”

     To be counted among the “whosoevers” in John 3:16 one has only to repent, believe, receive, and be baptized.  All the work was done on the cross.  To give your heart to Jesus is really to receive a heart from Jesus.

     Christmas is a time of giving and receiving.  If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, give your life to Him and receive the greatest gifts of all, eternal life, a relationship with God and His Son, and a new heart.