Share this article

print logo

Dr. Norman Shumway, heart transplant pioneer Died Feb. 10, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Thirty-eight years ago, Dr. Norman Shumway performed the first successful heart transplant in the United States on a 56-year-old man. Although that patient died a short time later, in the years to come, the operation became the reason that thousands more were able to live. Shumway died Friday at his home in Palo Alto of lung cancer, Stanford University spokeswoman Ruthann Richter said. He was 83.

Shumway may be best known for continuing with transplant research as many others gave up. During the 1970s, when most recipients died soon after their operations because of rejection or infection, many surgeons became discouraged. But Shumway stuck with it and built a large transplant research team at Stanford that found ways to overcome rejection problems.

Shumway developed tests that enabled the use of smaller doses of dangerous rejection drugs and was one of the first transplant surgeons to begin using the safer rejection drug cyclosporine. Ultimately, he dramatically improved survival rates for transplant recipients.

Shumway's first heart transplant patient, Mike Kasperak, died 14 days after the 1968 operation and never left the hospital. Now, it's common for patients to live for decades.

During the early 1960s, Shumway developed a heart transplant technique on dogs that was used by Dr. Christiaan Barnard, who transplanted the first human heart in December 1967.

In 1981, Shumway and Dr. Bruce Reitz completed the first successful heart and lung transplant in the same patient at the same time.

Born in Kalamazoo, Mich., Shumway served in the Army from 1943 to 1946. He also served in the Air Force from 1951 to 1953.

He earned his medical degree from Vanderbilt University in 1949 and doctorate from the University of Minnesota in 1956. He arrived at Stanford in 1958 as a surgery instructor and remained at the university for the rest of his career.


There are no comments - be the first to comment