Critical illness inventor dies

Marius Barnard, the inventor of critical illness insurance and the surgeon behind the world’s first heart transplant, has died aged 87.

The South African was motivated by seeing his patients’ financial hardship and worked with insurance companies to get the first product on the market on 6 August, 1983.

Since then his innovation has spread from South Africa around the world.

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In later life he acted as a technical consultant for Scottish Widows.

Dr Barnard rose to prominence in December 1967 when, with his brother Christiaan, he performed the first human-to-human heart transplant.

Speaking about critical illness policy on the 40th anniversary of the heart transplant he said: “You see it’s really a marriage between medicine and insurance.

“I always say we, as doctors, are the ‘physical doctors’, the protection insurance is the ‘financial doctors’. “

“If you are ill, the first person you’ll go to, if you have a heart attack, will be your ‘physical doctor’ but I hope at that stage you’ve already made provisions so that your financial health is in place.

“So when your physical goes you have financial protection to provide you with that money which is the promise of insurance and the definition of insurance to give you money when you need it most.”

He was also a member of the South African parliament between 1980 and 1989 for the Progressive Federal Party which opposed apartheid.