Sharon Hunt Reflects on Women Leaders in Cardiac Transplantation

By Megan Mayerle, PhD

March 7, 2019

The first successful heart transplant in the United States was performed at Stanford in 1968.  Chief Surgeon Norman Shumway replaced the diseased heart of Mike Kasperak, a retired steelworker. He survived for only 15 days. However, due to innovations in post-transplant patient care, today heart transplantation has become commonplace, and the surgery ensures patients a relatively high quality of life for years and often decades after surgery.

Sharon Hunt, MD, was a medical student at Stanford in 1968. By the time she finished her cardiology fellowship at Stanford, patient survival rates had begun to improve, and Hunt was one of four cardiologists asked to provide long term care for transplant recipients. Now a Professor Emerita of Cardiovascular Medicine at Stanford, Hunt is well known for her innovations in the care of patients after heart transplantation.

In an article published in February 2019 in Circulation, Hunt discusses the impact of women leaders in Cardiac Transplantation.

Currently 26% of board-certified transplantation care specialists in the US are women, a ratio that, though not equal, is far better than many other cardiac subspecialties. Hunt is quick to point out that the often-credited work-life balance and flexible hours are not the reason for the relatively high number of women in this subspecialty. She instead points to the fact that “Women have been in the field from the beginning, continue to be successful as specialists, hold leadership positions and have many relatable role models.”

In addition to her position as Professor Emerita of Cardiovascular Medicine at Stanford, Hunt is the former medical director of the Stanford post-transplant program and is a former President of the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation among other positions and honors.

Sharon Hunt, MD