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Imagine holding a person's broken heart in your hand, then being forced to improvise an unprecedented technique for its repair. For most cardiac surgeons, this would be a non-starter.
For Dr. Tirone David, overcoming seemingly impossible surgical hurdles became his clinical calling card.
"I find the challenge never dies," the renowned cardiac surgeon says from behind the desk of his office at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at Toronto General Hospital.
"I'm fighting a disease that never dies. I'm trying to resolve a problem."
Over the course of a more than 40-year career, Dr. David, who holds the Melanie Munk Chair in Cardiovascular Surgery, has contributed more to the resolution of deadly heart conditions than almost any other cardiac surgeon in the world.
By his own estimate, he has performed open-heart surgeries on more than 15,000 patients, with a success rate of close to 100 per cent. Dr. David has published more than 350 scientific papers and when pressed, humbly allows that he has developed approximately 16 or 17 life-saving surgical procedures to treat heart disease – some perfected from other surgeon's innovations, but mostly his own.
Of his earliest days in the operating room, the 73-year-old says, "The passion was incredible. I could do an operation much faster than my peers."
This is the fourth Peter Munk Cardiac Centre magazine published by
The Globe and Mail. Flip through its (digital) pages to read more about a day in the life of PMCC, game-changing devices, precision medicine and a tribute to our namesake, Peter Munk.
The magazine is now available online.