Dr. Elisabeth Martin Named
Surgical Director of Pediatric Pulmonary Artery Reconstruction

by Lynn Nichols
February 7, 2024

Elisabeth Martin, MD, is the perfect choice for the demanding and prestigious new role of surgical director of the Pulmonary Artery Reconstruction (PAR) Program at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health. The well-established program is a flagship of the Betty Irene Moore Children’s Heart Center at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, helping to put the Moore Children’s Heart Center on the map and drawing young patients from across the nation and world. The 20+ year program provides the highest level of comprehensive care for children and adults with congenital and acquired abnormalities of the pulmonary arteries.

After completing her pediatric cardiac surgery fellowships, Dr. Martin came to Stanford Children’s explicitly to learn the PAR surgical technique of unifocalization from its pioneer – Frank Hanley, MD, former division chief of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery and current executive director of the Moore Children’s Heart Center. Under Dr. Hanley’s mentorship she excelled at the highly complex strategies and surgical techniques of PAR. At the end of her training, she chose to join the faculty of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery in 2018 and become one of three PAR surgeons.

Leaders within the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery Department at Stanford Medicine selected Dr. Martin for her international reputation of being an exceptionally-skilled heart surgeon, and her deep knowledge of the PAR program at Stanford Children’s Health. She never shies away from highly challenging cases, utilizing a remarkable range of surgical skills.

“As the new surgical director of the PAR program, I hope to further streamline our process from preoperative investigations through surgery to postoperative and follow up care,” says Dr. Martin. “We are the referral center for these patients – who often come from long distances – so we need to be as involved as possible from the beginning to make sure patients arrive as ready as possible for surgery.”

Dr. Martin obtained her undergraduate degree from Health Sciences College of Chicoutimi, Quebec and McGill University and her medical degree from McGill University. Dr. Martin also earned a master of public health degree from Harvard University. She conducted her cardiac surgery residency at Laval University and her pediatric cardiac surgery fellowships at University of Toronto, after which she joined the faculty at Stanford.

Dr. Martin’s impeccable knowledge and skills are in high demand. She also serves as surgical director for the Pediatric Bloodless Cardiac Surgery program, the pediatric Center for Advanced Lung (CEAL) Therapies, the pediatric Lung and Heart-Lung Transplant program, and the surgical co-director for the Adult Congenital Heart Program at Stanford Children’s Health.

Dr. Martin describes PAR surgeries as “technically and physically demanding.” The size of the pulmonary vessels that surgeons work with demand an intricate, slow approach, making for long, complex surgeries. “It takes a large team of experts experienced in PAR to ensure the best outcomes for patients – including cardiologists, interventional cardiologists, cardiovascular intensive care doctors, cardiac imaging specialists, anesthesiologists, and physician assistants. As an international and national referral center, we are seeing more and more complex patients,” she says.  

In recent years, PAR surgeons have expanded the techniques of unifocalization to other heart-lung conditions and developed other reconstruction procedures. Dr. Martin sees that shift as one that will continue to evolve. “We have integrated what Dr. Hanley pioneered into a broader spectrum of patient populations. For example, now, if a child needs a heart-lung transplant because of pulmonary disease, we can treat the pulmonary disease with a PAR surgery followed by a heart transplant. We are also providing children with single-ventricle physiology and multiple collaterals a new pathway with unifocalization as an extra step during heart surgery. In these ways, we are able to offer an option for children who were previously not candidates for surgery.”

While other children’s hospitals in the nation and world provide unifocalization surgeries for children, no one else matches the skill and reputation of Stanford Children’s. It is the No. 1 place in the world for pulmonary artery reconstruction. The program treats a wide variety of conditions, not just tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia, but also abnormalities associated with Williams syndrome, Alagille syndrome, single ventricle hearts, and more.

Dr. Martin highly appreciates the multidisciplinary team that makes this possible – seeing her colleagues as all aligned on the same page of thinking outside the box to give every child their best possible outcome. “There’s a philosophy among our team that we are willing to try everything we can. We all understand that these kids are really sick, and that we have the techniques and knowledge to push their care forward.”

The announcement was made internally to colleagues and staff at Stanford Children’s Health, Stanford Health Care, and Stanford University School of Medicine on November 1, 2023 by Drs. Hanley and Woo. Please help us congratulate Dr. Martin on her new leadership role.

Dr. Elisabeth Martin