Perpetuating a Legacy of Cardiac Pioneers, with Guest Blog by Craig Selzman
Oct 18, 2016 1:00 PM
Laurel Harken, Alden Harken, Kim Selzman, Viviane Lee and Craig Selzman
Russell M. Nelson, M.D. ’47, is hailed as a true visionary and founding father of the University of Utah’s division of cardiothoracic surgery. Dr. Nelson worked on the University of Minnesota research team responsible for developing the heart-lung machine that supported the first open heart surgery on a human being in 1951. A few years later, he returned to Utah to build his own heart-lung bypass machine that was used to support the first open-heart surgery in Utah, the third state in the nation to successfully perform the procedure. Researchers at the U built on Nelson’s legacy, achieving many cardiology firsts, including invention of the first artificial heart, or Jarvik-7, which William DeVries, M.D., used to replace Barney Clark’s ravaged heart in 1982. Today, U. scientists are among a select group worldwide exploring ways to use heart pumps not only as a supportive bridge to transplant, but to help hearts heal and fully recover.
Recently, during the 25th Annual School of Medicine Alumni and Medical Community Weekend, we had the pleasure of hosting Alden Harken, M.D., as the first Russell M. Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., Endowed Visiting Professor. Our own Craig Selzman, M.D., Professor of Surgery and Chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Utah Health Care, trained with Dr. Harken. During his two-day visit, Dr. Harken gave a riveting talk about the history of cardiac surgery and spent time with cardiothoracic and general surgery residents. Dr. Selzman was inspired to write about Dr. Harken’s visit in the following guest blog.
Dr. Alden Harken gives the innagural Russell M. Nelson
Endowed Visiting Professor lecture.
Guest Blog by Craig Selzman:
On Oct. 13 and 14, we celebrated the legacy of Dr. Russell Nelson, our pioneer in cardiac surgery, by having another pioneer, Dr. Alden Harken, serve as the First Russell M. Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., Endowed Visiting Professor. Following the incredible 60th Anniversary of Utah Cardiac Surgery event last year, an educational endowment was established in Dr. Nelson’s name. A number of donors helped to establish this endowment and ongoing contributions can be made online. We were so honored to have Dr. Harken visit for two days. Dr. Harken is the Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of California-San Francisco-East Bay after incredibly productive years as department chair at the University of Colorado. As someone who has trained hundreds of students, residents, and fellows; published over 600 manuscripts; and conducted NIH-funded research for over 25 years, Dr. Harken uniquely represents Dr. Nelson’s ideals.
He did not disappoint. We tortured him for over 14 hours on Thursday when he was presented research from the Utah Cardiac Recovery group and the Cardiothoracic Surgery Division, as well as difficult ICU cardiac cases. He then delivered the Nelson lecture at a dinner attended by over 100 members of our healthcare community, including many of our local surgical colleagues in the valley. Dr. Harken gave a wonderful overview, describing the history of cardiac surgery and the barriers that medical pioneers faced and overcame. He shared some amazing original surgical videos of bullet retrievals from the heart in 1944 by his father (before the heart-lung machine existed), as well as repairs of ventricular septal defects using maternal cross-circulation by Walt Lillihei in the early 1950s.
On Friday, he returned to make both cardiothoracic and general surgery residents sweat as they actually had to understand myocardial acid-base status! He then gave a wonderful tour of the early days of surgical electrophysiology for Cardiovascular Medicine Grand Rounds. All in all, it was a great couple of days of learning from a master. His unbridled enthusiasm rekindled the spirit and excitement of learning and innovation so necessary for all of us to remember and live by.
Craig H. Selzman, M.D.
Guest blogger Craig H. Selzman. M.D., is a Professor of Surgery and Chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Utah who specializes in the care of patients requiring heart surgery.comments powered by Disqus