Norman Shumway, surgeon, Died at 83

  Dead Famous

Norman Edward Shumway died on February 10, 2006 at the age of 83; he was a pioneer of heart surgery at Stanford University. Born in Kalamazoo, Michigan on February 9, 1923.

He attended the University of Michigan for one year as an undergraduate until he was drafted by the Army in 1943, which sent him to John Tarleton Agricultural College in Stephenville, Texas for engineering training.

He then underwent Army Specialized Training, which included nine months of pre-medical training at Baylor University, followed by enrollment at Vanderbilt University for medical school.

He received his M.D. from Vanderbilt in 1949. He did his residency at the University of Minnesota under Walt Lillehei alongside future fellow transplantation pioneer Christiaan Barnard, and was awarded a surgical doctorate in 1956.

At Stanford, Norman Shumway and his team were active in many areas of cardiovascular surgery, including cardiac transplantation.

Shumway did much of the early experimental work in the field, including researching cardiac transplantation on animals, before heart transplants were attempted in human beings.

He performed the first adult heart transplant in the United States in 1968.

The first heart transplant in the world to a human was performed by James Hardy at the University Of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson on January 23, 1964.

The recipient was a 68-year-old man, but the donor was a chimpanzee; the patient died 1 hour later of acute rejection.

This transplant apparently “didn’t count” because it was not human-to-human.

Christiaan Barnard, also a friend of mine from the early days in Minneapolis, returned to South Africa, where he performed his epic operation on December 3, 1967, at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.

The patient, a 54-year-old man, received the heart of a 25-year-old woman and survived 18 days until he died of pneumonia. This was considered a transient success.

The first human-to-human heart transplant in the United States and the second in the world was performed by Adrian Kantrowitz 3 days later, on December 6, 1967, at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York.

The recipient was an 18-day-old male infant who received the heart of a 2-day-old anencephalic male.

The procedure, carried out under hypothermia rather than cardiopulmonary bypass, was technically successful; however, the patient died 6½ hours after surgery with severe metabolic and respiratory acidosis.

Barnard performed his second transplant on January 2, 1968, also at Groote Schuur Hospital.

In 1974 Shumway helped found the department of cardiothoracic surgery at Stanford, serving as its first chairman until 1993. He retired from surgery in 1993.