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Kaleida Health's most recent attempt to promote its troubled heart surgery program is both misleading to the public and insulting to the area's remaining heart surgeons. The hospital system boasts of recruiting a heart surgeon to provide aortic and mitral valve repair surgery, falsely claiming that such patients were previously forced to leave town for surgery.

For years, we have performed state-of-the-art aortic and mitral valve repair surgery, as have other talented heart surgeons of Erie County Medical Center and Mercy Hospital. Suggesting that Kaleida's new doctor is the only Buffalo surgeon capable of performing these procedures is ludicrous. We all have tasks that are integral to our respective jobs. If we can't perform them, we don't last long.

Review of the February 2004 New York State Department of Health Cardiac Surgery Report reveals that 12 of the 14 cardiac surgeons listed as operating at Kaleida have already left the former giant. Some left town, while others, including ourselves, moved to ECMC and Mercy Hospital. Local surgeons can perform outstanding surgery, and local doctors know it.

Jan D. Aldridge, M.D.

M. Hashmat Ashraf, M.B.B.S.

LuJean Jennings, M.D.

Buffalo Thoracic Surgical Associates