60th Anniversary of Cardiac Surgery Celebrated at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center

NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia Has Performed Tens of Thousands of Open Heart Surgeries, and Today Is Among Nation’s Top Cardiothoracic Surgery Programs

Mar 29, 2017

Cardiac surgery pamphlet
Cardiac surgery pamphlet

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New York - NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center is celebrating 60 years of open heart surgery with a ceremony at the NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center campus on Wednesday, March 29. The event will gather current and former patients, doctors, surgeons, nurses and other key members from the institutions’ shared program to commemorate this milestone, with official proclamations from the New York State Assembly and the Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer.

In 1956, Dr. George Humphreys performed the institution’s first open heart operation on a child with a congenital heart defect. Today, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center performs more than 2,200 open heart surgeries annually and has performed tens of thousands of such procedures since the program’s inception.

“This event celebrates an incredible achievement for NewYork-Presbyterian, and we couldn’t be more proud,” said Dr. Steven J. Corwin, president and CEO at NewYork-Presbyterian. “To look back on all that has been accomplished in the past 60 years gives us the courage and determination to continue to make amazing things happen for our patients.”

“We are honored to mark 60 years of leadership and innovation in cardiothoracic surgery. We constantly strive to put our patients first and give them the best outcomes possible and we look forward to continuing to do that throughout the next 60 years and beyond,” said Dr. Craig Smith, chair of the Department of Surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center and the Valentine Mott Professor of Surgery at Columbia University Medical Center. “The continued success of our cardiothoracic surgery program is a testament to the dedication of our multidisciplinary team, including surgeons, cardiologists, nurses and researchers who work in close concert to ensure the best possible outcomes.”

60 Years of Pioneering Surgical Advances

NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia physicians also marked with milestone with a white paper published in Seminars in Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. Dr. Michael Argenziano, chief of adult cardiac surgery and director of the Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery and Surgical Arrhythmia programs at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, along with his colleagues Drs. Craig Smith, Henry Spotnitz, Kenneth Steinglass and Emile Bacha, recount the history of the institutions’ historic initiatives in cardiothoracic surgery, underscoring that their commitment to clinical care, education and innovation has never been greater.

“Our cardiothoracic surgery program dates back to the earliest days of the specialty,” said Dr. Emile Bacha, director of congenital and pediatric cardiac surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, chief of the division of cardiac, thoracic and vascular surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and the Calvin F. Barber Professor of Surgery at Columbia University Medical Center. “That commitment to entering uncharted territories in the field of cardiothoracic surgery continues to drive us forward today and pushes us to always explore ways to make outcomes for patients better. When you look back at the history of cardiothoracic surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian and Columbia University Medical Center, it’s not hard to see why we are a leading institution, especially in this area.”

As the nation’s first academic medical center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center is no stranger to achieving “firsts,” especially in cardiothoracic surgery. From the first open heart operation on a child with a congenital heart defect in 1956, to the world’s first pediatric heart transplant in 1984, to performing the first totally endoscopic, robotic open-heart surgery in 2001, the institutions continue to pioneer advancements in clinical care, education and innovation today.

“All of the progress we’ve made and continue to make has been driven by the physicians, researchers, students and staff, nurses and technicians that have worked here throughout the generations. Their talent, drive, commitment to care and to bettering patients’ lives allows our cardiothoracic surgery program continues to thrive,” said Dr. Argenziano.

Cardiothoracic Surgery Milestones at
NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center

  • In 1945, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia, then Columbia-Bellevue, with the help of Dr. Andre Cournand, opened the first catheterization lab. Dr. Cournand received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his co-invention of cardiac catheterization in 1956.
  • In 1956, Dr. George Humphreys performed the institution’s first open heart operation on a child with a congenital heart defect.
  • In 1963, physicians at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia published their approach for the management of patients with Tetralogy of Fallot, a standard for many years to come.
  • In 1977, the institution established its heart transplant program.
  • In the 1980s and 1990s, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia led research on left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), both of which have dramatically improved the time that children with heart failure can survive until an organ becomes available.
  • In 1984, a team of NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia surgeons, led by Dr. Eric Rose, performed the world’s first pediatric heart transplant.
  • In 1985, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia became the only medical center in the state to be designated as a regional heart transplant center by the New York State Health Planning and Review Council.
  • In 1989, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia was the first in the U.S. to successfully transplant a child with complex single ventricle following unsuccessful corrective surgery.
  • In 2001, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia doctors performed the country’s first ABO-blood-type-incompatible heart transplant in a child.
  • In 2001 and 2002, Drs. Michael Argenziano, Craig Smith, and Mehmet Oz performed the first totally endoscopic, robotic open-heart operation, as well as the first robotic coronary artery bypass operation, in the United States.
  • In 2010, the transformative PARTNER trial, led by Drs. Craig Smith and Martin Leon, paves the way for the approval of transcatheter aortic valve replacements for aortic stenosis.
  • In 2013, Dr. Emile Bacha became the first surgeon in the world to use 3D printing in the surgical repair of a heart defect.
  • In 2016, Drs. Emile Bacha and Paul Chai implanted a ventricular assist device in the world’s youngest patient, who subsequently received a successful heart transplant.


NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the nation’s most comprehensive healthcare delivery networks, focused on providing innovative and compassionate care to patients in the New York metropolitan area and around the globe. In collaboration with two renowned medical school partners, Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, NewYork-Presbyterian is consistently recognized as a leader in medical education, groundbreaking research and clinical innovation.

NewYork-Presbyterian has four major divisions: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is ranked #1 in the New York metropolitan area by U.S. News and World Report and repeatedly named to the magazine’s Honor Roll of best hospitals in the nation; NewYork-Presbyterian Regional Hospital Network is comprised of leading hospitals in and around New York and delivers high-quality care to patients throughout the region; NewYork-Presbyterian Physician Services connects medical experts with patients in their communities; and NewYork-Presbyterian Community and Population Health features the hospital’s ambulatory care network sites and operations, community care initiatives and healthcare quality programs, including NewYork Quality Care, established by NewYork-Presbyterian, Weill Cornell and Columbia.

NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the largest healthcare providers in the U.S. Each year, nearly 40,000 NewYork-Presbyterian professionals deliver exceptional care for more than 4 million patients.

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Columbia University Medical Center

Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, preclinical, and clinical research; medical and health sciences education; and patient care. The medical center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, public health professionals, dentists, and nurses at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. Columbia University Medical Center is home to the largest medical research enterprise in New York City and State and one of the largest faculty medical practices in the Northeast. The campus that Columbia University Medical Center shares with its hospital partner, NewYork-Presbyterian, is now called the Columbia University Irving Medical Center. For more information, visit cumc.columbia.edu or columbiadoctors.org.

Media Contact:

Jessica Mikulski [email protected]