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Honouring our critical illness promise

It is over 50 years since Dr Marius Barnard and his brother Christiaan successfully carried out the first human to human heart transplant.

Although this work was ground-breaking, if you spoke to Marius, he would argue that this was not his greatest achievement in life.

He witnessed first-hand that the lives of those undergoing major organ transplants were fraught with challenges once they left the care of a hospital, with the financial impact from the loss of income being one of the more significant. That’s why, 37 years ago, Marius devised the first protection insurance to pay out when someone was still alive, rather than when they died.

Today, this is known as critical illness insurance. We’re proud to say that Marius worked closely with Scottish Widows and was instrumental in helping us develop our critical illness insurance philosophy, culture and products.

Our Technical and Industry Affairs Manager, Johnny Timpson, considered Marius both a friend and mentor. Before Marius passed away he asked Johnny to promise to safeguard and advocate his greatest achievement - the creation and development of accessible and affordable critical illness cover that provides benefits and support to vulnerable policyholders when they need it most.

At Scottish Widows we’re honoured to have worked closely with Marius to develop our Critical Illness Cover.

Recognising continued commitment

In honour of our special relationship with Marius we held our inaugural Dr Marius Barnard Recognition event on 27th February 2020. The event celebrated the continued commitment of advisers to promote critical illness insurance and continue to be advocates of protection. At the event we recognised advisers for their contribution to the protection market and who are focussed on doing the right thing for their clients.

We were delighted that Marius’ daughter Naudene was in attendance to present The Barnard Award to Tom Baigrie from Lifesearch in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the protection market.

Add to your CPD and watch these short films

Marius’ daughter Naudene made a TV documentary to mark the 50th anniversary of the first heart transplant. The below films are a great way to see how the creation of critical illness insurance was brought to life.


This film tells the story of the great medical breakthrough of December 1967, which would in turn, lead to the invention of critical illness cover. It is also a great testimony to both Marius and Christiaan Barnard, two brothers who changed the world in different ways.


How Dr Marius Barnard identified the need for a new type of insurance – critical illness insurance. Marius shared his vision with an insurance company and went on to develop the first critical illness insurance policy.

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