Departmental Highlights & News

Drs. Norman Shumway, left, and Donald C. Harrison meet the press after they perform the first adult human transplant in the United States in January 1968.

Stanford is able to leverage a series of "firsts," including the first heart transplant in the US, the first heart-lung transplant in the world, and one of the first left ventricular assist device (LVAD) procedures in the world. Stanford dominates the market in programs involving a high percentage of complex procedures. Several of Stanford's most successful cardiac programs have a broad geographical base, with over 20% of the volume for heart transplants, aorta and valve procedures coming from outside the Bay Area. Stanford also has a strong international cardiac market with cardiac patients representing more than 50% of overall international business. 

Dr. Bruce Reitz and his surgical team perform the world’s first successful combined adult human heart-lung transplant in 1981

Cardiothoracic Surgery Celebrates Women in Medicine Luncheon

September 27, 2023 | 12:00 to 2:00 PM | Falk Library
September marks the American Medical Association’s Women in Medicine Month—an annual celebration of women physicians, residents, and trainees. We look forward to celebrating all the women in medicine and sharing our appreciation for those who have paved the way for future leaders in cardiothoracic surgery.

September 12, 2023

Path to excellence at Stanford: Dr. Pat Kasinpila's journey to becoming a heart surgeon

Dr. Patpilai Kasinpila shares her journey from a young student with an early passion for surgery to a surgeon specializing in heart surgery at Stanford Medicine. 

September 8, 2023

Society of Thoracic Surgeons Newsletter features Drs. Joseph Woo and Leah Backhus

Dr. Woo received the Faculty Women’s Forum Outstanding Leader Award for his exemplary record of developing a culture of inclusion and promotion of women faculty through allyship, leadership, and sponsorship, and Dr. Backhus was promoted to professor of cardiothoracic surgery.

Summer 2023

PACT Team Says Yes to Passed-Over Donor Heart, Giving Young Man a Second Chance

When it came time to perform Josh’s Cole's heart transplant, Dr. Michael Ma consulted with Dr. Joseph Woo and teamed up with the lead donor surgeon, who delivered the heart to perform their novel modification to give Josh the best outcome—a healthier heart. Using clamps, Dr. Ma rerouted blood flow within the heart without stopping it. The heart transplantation surgery was a great success.

August 31, 2023

Resident Dr. Stefan Elde receives NIH Ruth L Kirschstein National Research Service Award

Stefan Elde, MD, a cardiothoracic surgery resident in the Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, was recently awarded the NIH NHLBI Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship (F32), a highly competitive grant to support the research training of highly promising postdoctoral candidates in scientific health-related research fields.

August 18, 2023

New York and California lead states in cardiology hospitals

New York and California topped all 50 states in appearances on the U.S. News & World Report "2023-24 Best Hospitals for Cardiology, Heart & Vascular Surgery" ranking. Heart disease is the leading cause of death across the world and in 42 states, including New York and California. Still, less than half the states — 20 — appeared on the list naming the 50 best cardiology hospitals, and only 11 states were named more than once.

August 8, 2023

Stanford Hospital receives national rankings for excellence in heart and lung surgery procedures

In a recent news release, Stanford Health Care was ranked among the top ten hospitals in the nation by the U.S. News & World Report for cardiology, heart and vascular surgery (ranked #9), and for pulmonary and lung surgery (ranked #7), according to the 2023-2024 Best Hospitals rankings.

August 8, 2023

US News Ranks Top Cardiology, Heart Surgery Hospitals

US News evaluated 779 hospitals and ranked the top 50 that care for patients with challenging heart and vascular cases, including heart transplants; implantation of cardiac devices, such as pacemakers and defibrillators; major chest procedures and patients with cardiovascular disease and other complex conditions, such as endocarditis; and heart failure and circulatory issues.

August 2, 2023

Dr. Michael Fischbein to serve as President of the Western Thoracic Surgical Association

The Western Thoracic Surgical Association (WTSA) has selected Michael Fischbein, MD, PhD, to serve as the next President of WTSA. His yearlong tenure, which will include the WTSA’s 50th anniversary celebration, begins July 1, 2023.

August 1, 2023

Young Man Receives the Rare Gift of Three Transplants

Joseph Sanchez is the first patient at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health to receive a liver, kidney, and a heart transplant at three different points of his life. Pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Michael Ma performed the heart transplant.

July 26, 2023

ABC7 Chicago: Liver, kidney, and heart: 19-year-old reunites with surgeon months after 3rd organ transplant

A 19-year-old man from California was reunited with the surgeon who performed his heart transplant, the third organ he had replaced in his young life. Joseph Sanchez and Dr. Michael Ma, of Stanford Medicine Children's Health, shared a hug outside of the hospital where, four months earlier, Sanchez walked out of the doors with his new heart.

July 24, 2023

Appointment of Dr. Leah Backhus as Inaugural Director of Faculty Development

Dr. Backhus will oversee a range of initiatives to support and advance the professional growth of our faculty members. Drawing on her deep experience in this area, she will champion departmental efforts related to academic advancement, identify mentorship and educational opportunities, enhance the well-being of our faculty, and leverage resources and connections across campus to serve our faculty. Her responsibilities will extend beyond the department, where she will contribute to strategic discussions concerning faculty tenure and promotion processes within the School of Medicine.

July 19, 2023

Stanford Cardiothoracic Surgery DEI/Wellness Staff Committee

The Stanford Cardiothoracic Surgery DEI and Wellness Staff Committee is composed of staff members who are interested in promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, well-being, and wellness within the department through education, programming, and other engagements.

July 19, 2023

Stanford Hospital recognized as 2023 Mitral Valve Repair Reference Center Award recipient

The American Heart Association and the Mitral Foundation have awarded the 2023 Mitral Valve Repair Reference Center Award to Stanford Health Care, a recognition designated to select medical centers in the United States with a record of excellent clinical outcomes in mitral valve repair surgery.

July 11, 2023

Department Quarterly Newsletter 2023 Spring 

The Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery releases its spring issue of the quarterly newsletter! This issue highlights the latest news and updates in clinical care, research, and education. View online or PDF version

July 6, 2023

Department welcomes new transplant clinical instructors, Drs. Carol Chen and Mike Paulsen

The Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery is pleased to welcome Carol Chen, MD, and Michael Paulsen, MD, to the department as Transplant Clinical Instructors. In their roles, they will provide patient care in mechanical circulatory support device insertion and heart, heart-lung, and lung transplant procedures.

July 1, 2023

Stanford Hospital among 2023 Becker’s Great Hospitals in America list

The Becker’s Hospital Review has released its 2023 edition of its “Great Hospitals in America” list, with Stanford Hospital listed as among the top hospitals nationwide renowned for clinical excellence, patient safety, innovation efforts, research and education, patient satisfaction, and more.

June 29, 2023

Podcast: Dr. Jack Boyd explains myocardial bridge surgery

Dr. Jack Boyd performs a high volume of unroofing procedures at Stanford Health Care. In this latest episode on the Imperfect Heart podcast, he discusses the myocardial bridge surgery and the unroofing procedure.

June 28, 2023

School of Medicine staff and faculty honored with Faculty Women’s Forum awards

The Faculty Women’s Forum recognizes Dr. Joseph Woo, along with 17 other winners in five categories, for outstanding work supporting women at Stanford through role modeling, allyship, leadership, and sponsorship. 

June 28, 2023

Dr. Leah Backhus promoted to Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery

Dr. Leah Backhus devotes career to helping patients lead healthier lives, advancing lung cancer research, and leading the next generation of future surgeons.

June 27, 2023

Department celebrates graduating cardiothoracic surgery residents and fellows

In June, the Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery celebrated five individuals who completed the Traditional Cardiothoracic Surgery Fellowship and Integrated Cardiothoracic Surgical Training Program. Congratulations to our residents and fellows!

June 22, 2023

WTSA 49th Annual Meeting features research from department faculty and trainees

The Western Thoracic Surgical Association (WTSA) 49th Annual Meeting featured the latest clinical and research advancements from the Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery on June 21-24, 2023. The annual meeting was hosted in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

June 22, 2023

Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford Continues to Rank Among Top Children’s Hospitals in the Nation

Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford has once again been named the top children’s hospital in Northern California, according to the U.S. News & World Report 2023–24 Best Children’s Hospitals survey. The hospital also ranked in pediatric cardiology and heart surgery.

June 21, 2023

2023 Stanford Pride Parade

June is Pride Month, an annual celebration dedicated to amplifying LGBTQ+ voices as well as celebrating their accomplishments. This year, the Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery collaborated with the Departments of Surgery and Emergency Medicine in sponsoring the 3rd Annual Pride Parade on June 6, 2023. More than 80 parade participants from various Stanford departments and units joined in this event. 

June 14, 2023

Stanford Biodesign 2022-2023 Faculty Fellow: Dr. Claire Watkins

A. Claire Watkins, MD, clinical assistant professor in the Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, was among the participants selected for 2022-2023 Faculty Fellowship. Watkins' project explored new strategies to prevent aneurysm growth in patients with small aortic aneurysms, a bulge that occurs in the aorta, the large artery that carries blood from the heart to the body. The Biodesign Faculty Fellowship gave her the regulatory, legal, and business background to continue this critical work.

June 6, 2023

Healthier, Happy Lives: CPR: Every Moment Counts

Cardiothoracic surgeon Michael Ma, MD, treats many of the Stanford Children's patients who have arrhythmias, and he implants several ICDs a year. He's passionate about helping these children. "I think that we do really important work here at the Moore Children's Heart Center, and everyone is really committed," he says. "We know what's at stake—a family's really loved child. We all take that very seriously, and getting to be on a team that has this philosophy is extremely rewarding."

June 1, 2023

Stanford Surgeons Perform First Beating-Heart Procedure

With many barriers standing in the way of people in the United States who need a heart transplant, fewer than 10 percent of patients actually receive this life-saving surgery according to Stanford Medicine. Therefore, surgeons are working on different techniques to increase the pool of healthy donated hearts. To speak more about this, Dr. Javed Butler is joined by Dr. John MacArthur, Assistant Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Stanford School of Medicine.

May 30, 2023

Stanford's Heart Transplantation Experience Over 50 Years Video Wins Bronze Telly Award

The Telly Awards is the premier award honoring video and television across all screens. This year, Stanford's Heart Transplantation Experience Over 50 Years video has been awarded "BRONZE WINNER" under the general category, Educational Institution, non-broadcast category.

May 25, 2023

Department clinical and research expertise showcased at AATS 103rd Annual Meeting

The Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery showcased its clinical and research expertise at the American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS) 103rd Annual Meeting at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, Calif., May 6—9, 2023.

May 16, 2023

Ngan Huang receives Alan T. Hirsch, MD, Mid-Career Award in Vascular Medicine

The Alan T. Hirsch, MD, Mid-Career Award in Vascular Medicine encourages and supports the efforts of peripheral vascular disease investigators who are at mid-career level. This award was given to Ngan Huang, PhD, at the Vascular Discovery: From Genes to Medicine 2023 Scientific Sessions, May 10-13, 2023.

May 15, 2023

Fellows Match Day 2023: Department welcomes two new cardiothoracic surgery fellows

On May 3, the Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery welcomed two new fellows to the Traditional Cardiothoracic Surgery Fellowship. We are thrilled to have matched with Corbin Goerlich, MD, PhD, from Johns Hopkins University for the Adult Cardiac Surgery Track and Gregory Kennedy, MD, from University of Pennsylvania for the General Thoracic Track. They will start their training in August of 2024. Congratulations to our new fellows!

May 15, 2023

This Is My Why: Champions of Stanford Medicine hospitals

In celebrating those who make immeasurable contributions to health care, we're featuring a cross-section of the people whose dedication and passion support the success of Stanford Medicine's hospitals. They span the array of functions that make up the heart and soul of Stanford Hospital and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford. 

May 8, 2023

Stanford Cardiothoracic Surgery 2023 Pride Parade

The Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery is collaborating with the Departments of Surgery and Emergency Medicine in sponsoring the 2023 PRIDE PARADE! The 2023 Pride Parade will be held on Tuesday, June 6th. Register here. All are welcome!

May 5, 2023

Extraordinary Women Awards at STS 2023

More than 290 attendees joined the STS Extraordinary Women in Cardiothoracic Surgery Award breakfast, where they celebrated the achievements of women surgeons throughout history. Awards were presented to Leah M. Backhus, MD, MPH, from Stanford University; Jennifer L. Ellis, MD, MBA, from NYU Langone Health; and Betty C. Tong, MD, MHS, MS, from Duke University Medical Center. Watch the video.

April 27, 2023

Dr. William Hiesinger promoted to Associate Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery

Hiesinger practices at Stanford Health Care, focusing on a broad range of cardiothoracic surgery and specializing in heart transplantation, mitral and aortic valve repair, surgical treatment for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, coronary artery bypass, and complex thoracic aortic procedures. He provides exceptional care for his patients with expertise and compassion, drawing on the strength of his team to deliver successful surgical treatments and outcomes for all cardiac cases.

April 27, 2023

Stanford Medicine surgeons perform first ever transplant with still beating heart

Surgeons at Stanford Medicine have performed a first-time feat by transplanting a still beating heart into a patient, reducing the risk of cardiac tissue damage and subsequent decreased survival outcomes associated with stopping the heart.

April 25, 2023

Getting to the heart of a rare genetic condition

A rare genetic condition meant a lot of uncertainty for an unborn baby. A multispecialty Stanford Medicine Children’s Health team, including renowned heart surgeon Frank Hanley, MD, chief of pediatric heart surgery, came together to find answers.

April 21, 2023

Stanford Medicine performs first beating-heart transplant

Medicine surgeons are the first to transplant a beating heart into a patient. The first surgery took place in October and has since been followed by five more in both adult and pediatric patients, according to an April 19 system press release. 

April 20, 2023

Stanford Medicine surgeons perform first beating-heart transplants from cardiac death donors

Surgeons at Stanford Medicine believe the new technique, which has now been performed on six patients, will improve health outcomes for recipients and boost the pool of available organs.

April 19, 2023

Consider Fast Stress Relaxation for improved Tissue Engineering

Humans lack the ability to efficiently regenerate tissues and organs. Unfortunately, it is also relatively easy to lose human tissue or organs due to birth defects, disease, or sudden trauma. One new area of scientific work that would have potential in addressing this need is tissue engineering. The use of biomaterial (material that can interact with the body’s system) can create functional tissues to repair, restore, or replace damaged tissue or organs. 

April 18, 2023

The doctor and the judge: Norman Shumway and Avern Cohn

This is a story about two remarkable Michigan men: Norman Shumway had designs on becoming a lawyer. Avern Cohn planned to be a doctor. Read more online or view PDF version.

April 17, 2023

Society For Biomaterials Announces its 2023 Award Recipients

The Society For Biomaterials (SFB), a multidisciplinary society of academic, healthcare, governmental and business professionals who are dedicated to promoting advancements in all aspects of biomaterials science, education, and professional standards to enhance human health and quality of life, recently announced its slate of 2023 award recipients.

April 11, 2023

Department Quarterly Newsletter 2023 Winter 

The Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery releases its winter issue of the quarterly newsletter! This issue highlights the latest news and updates in clinical care, research, and education. View online or PDF version

April 4, 2023

Match Day 2023: Three new interns join cardiothoracic surgery residency program

On Friday, March 17, the Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery welcomed three new residents to the Integrated Cardiothoracic Surgical Training Program as part of the 2023 National Resident Matching Program. Please join us in welcoming Edgar Aranda-Michel, Jon Hochstein, and Gabe Weininger to the department! They will start their training at the end of June 2023.

March 31, 2023

Ngan F. Huang, PhD, receives Veteran Affairs Research Career Scientist Award

Ngan F. Huang, PhD, associate professor of cardiothoracic surgery at the Stanford University School of Medicine, was recently awarded the Research Career Scientist Award from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). 

March 29, 2023

Highly specialized: Stanford leads in en-bloc heart-liver transplantations

On July 16, members of Christopher's team performed a rare en-bloc heart and liver transplant with a pulmonary artery reconstruction. The surgical team included cardiac transplant surgeon John W. MacArthur, MD, and liver transplant surgeons Clark Bonham, MD, and Carlos Esquivel, MD, PhD.

March 22, 2023

Resident Dr. Tomi Obafemi establishes Cardiothoracic Surgery Diversifying Pipeline Award

To improve the pipeline of underrepresented minority (URM) researchers in cardiothoracic surgery, Oluwatomisin "Tomi" Obafemi, MD, received departmental funding to establish the Cardiothoracic Surgery Diversifying Pipeline Award program. He worked with the CVI Summer Research Program to fund three summer research interns interested in cardiovascular medicine and surgery.

March 15, 2023

Dr. William Hiesinger receives Stanford Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence Seed Research Grant

Dr. William Hiesinger was awarded the 2022 Stanford Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI) Seed Research Grant to support a project on developing SuTr, a foundational vision model for artificial intelligence in surgery.

March 9, 2023

The kids fighting back against rare diseases

Millions of children in the U.S. with rare diseases struggle to find treatment. But at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, they’re getting the innovative care they deserve from health specialists and surgeons, including Dr. Elisabeth Martin, and paving the way for others.

March 1, 2023

Transplant Patients Honored at Golden State Warriors’ Game

During the national anthem, two Stanford Medicine Children’s Health patients stood on the floor of Chase Center next to their favorite NBA players during the Golden State Warriors vs. Portland Trailblazers game. The patient families were being celebrated as they all went through a transplant journey. In conjunction with African American Heritage Night at the game, the aim is to raise awareness for the importance of organ donation.

February 28, 2023

Healthier Hawaii: Kapiolani’s new pediatric heart center

Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children recently opened its new pediatric heart center. Dr. Louis Capecci, Kapiolani’s first full-time pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon, talks about his role in cardiac care and the new center.

February 22, 2023

Heart Transplant Program Earns National Recognition for Outcomes and Decreased Wait Times

The Heart Transplant Program at Stanford Health Care remains a national leader. In 2022, the number of adult heart transplants performed by the Stanford Medicine team was 74 in addition to the 11 heart-lung transplant, with a calendar year total of 85 transplants. At Stanford Health Care, approximately 75% of patients on the waiting list for a heart transplant received a heart within one year as compared with the national average of approximately 58%.

February 27, 2023

Podcast: The Role of the Thoracic Surgeon in Lung Cancer Care

On this Consultant 360 podcast, Dr. Leah Backhus talks about the role of the thoracic surgeon in lung cancer care, including how the screening environment and the advances in surgical techniques, especially bronchoscopy and minimally invasive techniques, have impacted patient outcomes.

February 22, 2023

58 hospitals and health systems with heart programs to watch in 2023

The hospitals and health systems featured have earned national recognition for their excellent heart care, outcomes and cutting edge technology. Many are also involved in research to push forward the field and discover new treatments. 

February 21, 2023

Baby With Challenging Tetralogy of Fallot Grows Into Healthy Toddler

If you watched 2-year-old Hayden Stevens throwing balls and climbing on the equipment at his favorite play place, you would never guess that he was born with a serious heart defect that demanded two surgeries and several procedures all before his first birthday. 

February 14, 2023

Three Innovations Shorten Heart Transplant Patient’s Wait Time

Child-sized hearts are hard to come by and often mean that kids in heart failure have to wait many months for a donor match. Some children, sadly, don’t survive. It’s what drove Stanford Medicine Children’s Health’s Betty Irene Moore Children’s Heart Center to begin researching ways to shorten wait times for pediatric heart transplants nearly 10 years ago. 

February 8, 2023

Dr. Leah Backhus receives inaugural Extraordinary Women of Cardiothoracic Surgery Award

The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) and Women in Thoracic Surgery (WTS) awarded its inaugural 2023 Extraordinary Women of Cardiothoracic Surgery Award to Leah Backhus, MD, MPH, FACS, associate professor of cardiothoracic surgery at the Stanford University School of Medicine. She received the award on Saturday, January 21, during STS's 59th annual meeting in San Diego, California.

February 7, 2023

A joyful pause for premature baby on heart transplant list

Sky wasn’t big enough or well enough yet for heart surgery, a decision made after a thoughtful conversation with Frank Hanley, MD. But he turned out to be a miracle baby, going from needing a heart transplant to near-normal heart function in just a few months—without heart surgery.

February 2, 2023

Department research and prestigious awards presented at the 2023 Society of Thoracic Surgeons Annual Meeting

The Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery presented the latest research at the Society of Thoracic Surgeons 59th Annual Meeting from January 21 to 23, 2023 in San Diego, Calif. The three-day STS Annual Meeting featured interactive learning on hot topics, including thought-provoking lectures from renowned faculty and guests, exciting hands-on sessions, and breakthrough poster presentations.

February 1, 2023

Celebrate February Heart Month with food

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and worldwide. This February, Stanford Health Care celebrates Heart Month at every meal with small, easy changes to advocate cardiovascular health and raise awareness about heart disease.

February 1, 2023

StanfordMed Pulse: Celebrating American Heart Month

As we begin American Heart Month this week, we want to thank the clinicians, scientists, trainees, and staff across Stanford Medicine who work tirelessly to prevent, treat, and research heart disease. The innovative research you conduct and the compassionate care you provide are saving lives and driving new advances in heart health.

January 31, 2023

Dr. Jack Boyd accepted into American Association for Thoracic Surgery membership

Jack Boyd, MD, has been accepted into membership for the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, the premier association for cardiothoracic surgeons around the world.

January 31, 2023

At Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, we extend a heartfelt affirmation of our commitment to fostering a positive, encouraging, inclusive environment where faculty, residents, students, and staff of multiple, different backgrounds and perspectives are respected, valued, and appreciated.  We celebrate the many accomplishments of our diverse team in advancing the missions of excellence in clinical care, novel discovery and innovation, and training and mentorship of the next generation of leaders.

Addressing global health and surgical care disparities

Access to safe and affordable surgical care is a challenge worldwide, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. An estimated six billion people - about 75% of the world’s population - have no access to cardiac surgical care, due to the short supply of surgeons, equipment, and facilities in many under-resourced communities.

January 24, 2023

Stanford Health Care named among Best Hospitals for Patient Experience

The Women's Choice Award has released its hospital rankings for 2023, spotlighting thousands of hospitals nationwide for exceptional women's healthcare. Stanford Health Care was named among Best Hospitals for Patient Experience.

January 17, 2023

Stanford Health Care is first in the western U.S. to complete transapical off-pump mitral valve repair

Jack Boyd, MD, a nationally recognized cardiothoracic surgeon, is the first surgeon in the western United States to use a minimally invasive, off-pump surgical technique to treat degenerative mitral valve regurgitation due to prolapse.

January 9, 2023