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Branislav Radovancevic

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brano radovancevicBranislav ("Brano") Radovancevic was an internationally respected leader in the fields of cardiac transplantation and mechanical circulatory support. He was also a beloved friend to the staff of the Texas Heart Institute (THI) for over two decades, as well as to many of us residing in the world outside of Texas.

Brano was born in Osijek, Croatia in 1952 and received his medical degree in Belgrade, Serbia. In 1984, Brano came to the THI in Houston as a research fellow in cardiac transplantation and over the next 20 years became that prestigious institution's Associate Director of Transplant Research, and eventually the Director of the Center for Cardiac Support. These positions allowed him to pursue his main interests including the study of immunosuppressive drugs and the development of mechanical devices to assist the failing heart. His early research for combating organ rejection was recognized internationally. As an integral member of THI's animal research team, Brano designed and performed studies involving myocardial protection during cardiac surgery, temporary and permanent mechanical circulatory assist devices, heart valve prostheses, and synthetic vascular grafts. He wrote or contributed to nearly 300 publications and lectured and traveled extensively.

In 1993, Brano became the father of what came to be known as the "Rodeo Meeting," and was its organizer and Master of Ceremonies for the next 14 years. Every March, he attracted leaders in the fields of transplantation and mechanical circulatory support to Houston for an evening at the renowned Livestock Show and Rodeo, followed the next day by a disarmingly relaxed and often humorous "no ties, no suits" round-table discussion that covered a myriad of topics. Year after year, a surprising number of not-at-all-obvious insights became glaringly obvious the moment they were verbalized at the meeting. For those of us fortunate enough to be invited, those epiphanies resulted in something as small as the awareness that you have to be wearing cowboy boots if you are going to a rodeo to something as profound as a change in clinical practice at one's own institution, the development of multi-center trials, or national consensus conferences. Aside from his professional accomplishments, Brano had a warmth and humanity that were deeply felt by all who knew and worked with him. He was a pragmatic, modest and gentle individual whose goal in life truly was to help others - whether family, colleagues, or patients.

After Brano passed away on September 15, 2007, Dr. O.H. Frazier stated at the memorial, "after learning that his able Lieutenant General 'Stonewall' Jackson had lost his left arm, General Robert E. Lee said, 'He has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right arm.' Brano was truly the right arm of so many of our endeavors. We will sorely miss his companionship and support, and his warm smile, contagious laugh, and jaunty steps in the halls of the Texas Heart Institute."

As for myself, believing in a Proustian form of existence, people like Brano do not die but rather remain bathed in a sort of aura of life through which they continue to occupy our thoughts in the same way as when they were alive. It is as though Brano was merely traveling abroad.

Mark L Barr and O H Frazier