The first human heart transplant in the U.S. was performed 50 years ago this month at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. Pioneering cardiac surgeon and medical device inventor, Dr. Adrian Kantrowitz, transplanted a heart into a newborn baby in December of 1967.
“The groundbreaking work of Dr. Adrian Kantrowitz paved the way for the routine transplants of today,” noted Dr. Jacob Shani, Chair of Cardiology at Maimonides. “The Maimonides Heart & Vascular Institute is delighted to honor his achievements in cardiovascular medicine and continue his legacy of clinical excellence.”
This historic milestone was celebrated at the Annual Maimonides Heart & Vascular Symposium, which included a tribute to Dr. Adrian Kantrowitz. His daughter, cardiologist Dr. Niki Kantrowitz, attended the special ceremony and accepted a commemorative plaque in honor of her father’s remarkable work.
Multiple heart transplant patients also attended the symposium to express their gratitude to Dr. Kantrowitz for his expertise. “If the cardiac specialists at Maimonides didn’t do this fifty years ago, I wouldn’t be here today,” said Charles LaRosa, Vietnam veteran, Maimonides patient and heart transplant recipient. “I’m now able to enjoy my life and spend time with my grandchildren.”
Dr. Kantrowitz developed many cardiac devices, such as the intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) and a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), innovations that are saving lives to this day. His research papers and other memorabilia were donated by Jean Kantrowitz, his widow and co-founder of L. VAD Technology, Inc., to the US National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, and can be accessed by all who wish to learn more about the work of this icon of 20th century medicine. Dr. Kantrowitz died in 2008 at age 90. Link: https://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/GN/.
Special Guest Dr. Howard Zucker, NY State Health Commissioner, discussed the significance of the first successful heart transplant and commended the current cardiovascular experts at Maimonides for their continued dedication to groundbreaking approaches to care.
The symposium at Maimonides, “Advances in Cardiovascular Medicine: Now and into the Future,” included a review of the challenges in heart transplantation, transcatheter valves, aortic conditions, and recent advancements. Maimonides faculty included Dr. Shani; Dr. Patrick Borgen, Chair of Surgery; Dr. Greg Ribakove, Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery; and Dr. Robert Rhee, Director of Vascular & Endovascular Surgery.
Guest lecturers included: Dr. Brian Lima, Director of Heart Transplantation Surgery, North Shore University Hospital, Manhasset, NY; Dr. Andrew Eisenhauer, Cardiologist, Central Maine Heart and Vascular Institute, Lewiston, ME; and Dr. Cherrie Abraham, Director of the Aortic Center and Vascular/Endovascular Surgeon, Knight Cardiovascular Institute, Portland, OR.
Edited by: JV Staff
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