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Island Health celebrates 25,000 hearts

Heart surgeons in formal wear
Dr Brownlee, Dr Dutton, Dr Perchinsky, Dr Smith and Dr Ofiesh

Island Health’s Cardiac Surgery Program at Royal Jubilee Hospital recently completed their 25,000th heart operation. To commemorate the milestone, members of the Cardiac Surgery Program, with support from the Victoria Hospitals Foundation, held a celebratory dinner at Government House on the weekend for many current and former staff who worked on the Cardiac Surgery service.

The first cardiac operation was performed by Dr. R. T. Brownlee in 1973. Since then, the Cardiac Surgery Program has grown to four cardiac surgeons and completes approximately 15 procedures per week. The founding cardiac surgeons, Dr. Brownlee, Dr. James Dutton and Dr. R. C. Smith, as well as two cardiac anesthesiologists and several operating room nurses from the original program were on hand to join the celebration.

“Congratulations to the cardiac surgeons, cardiac surgery program and entire Heart Health team for achieving this milestone,” said Island Health Board Chair, Leah Hollins.  “You have created a legacy of excellence that has enabled us not only to save thousands of lives, but also to attract talented health professionals from around the world to care for people on Vancouver Island.”

The Cardiac Surgery Program performs a variety of heart surgeries including: coronary bypass, heart valve replacement, aortic aneurysm repair and more. Every year, approximately 725 procedures are completed. Most operations take three to five hours. Each procedure requires the coordinated efforts of cardiac surgeons, anaesthesiologists, perfusionists, GP assists, cardiologists and specialized nurses, in addition to many other important members of the heart health team.

“We couldn’t let this milestone pass without recognizing the evolution of this program,” said cardiac surgeon, Dr. Michael Perchinsky. “It has been an amazing team effort to have operated on 25,000 patients. To see the positive ripple effects those life-changing procedures have on our patients, their families and friends, this is what continues to inspire us.”