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Honoring a pioneer in heart-transplant medicine

When Sharon Hunt, MD, arrived at Stanford as a first-year medical student in the fall of 1967, it was just months before the late cardiac surgeon Norman Shumway, MD, and his team would perform the first adult human heart transplantation in the United States. Then just an observer, Hunt would eventually become a key player in transplantation - staying on at Stanford, caring for more than 1,500 heart transplant patients, and becoming a pioneer in the field of post-transplant cardiology.

Hunt recently received a lifetime achievement award from the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation. And in a Stanford Hospital piece today, my colleague John Sanford shares some of Hunt’s history and describes the significance of her early work:

“Even after the surgical technique for heart transplantation had been developed and operations had been done, the field was naïve in that people didn’t know how to manage patients,” said cardiologist Michael Pham, MD, MPH, a clinical associate professor of medicine at Stanford. “How do you manage patients who will be on immunosuppressive medications for the rest of their lives? How do you balance the benefit of these drugs with their toxicities in the long run? How do you identify and treat patients who reject their transplanted hearts? These are some of the questions that Sharon has done more than anyone to answer."

“Without Sharon, who took care of these transplant patients after figuring out their medications and complications, there would be no successful cardiac transplantation at all,” said Alan Yeung, MD, chief of cardiovascular medicine at Stanford Hospital and the Li Ka Shing Professor in Cardiology.

Previously: First U.S. heart transplant among the top 50 breakthroughs in science
Photo by Norbert von der Groeben

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