Norman Shumway, MD, PhD

Norman Shumway, MD, was a pioneer of heart surgery at Stanford University, and the first to perform a successful heart transplantation in the United States.

As a member of Stanford’s cardiovascular research surgery program, Shumway began conducting heart transplants on dogs. About one month after South African surgeon Christiaan Barnard performed the world’s first human heart transplant, Shumway performed the operation on a 54-year-old man whose heart had been damaged by a virus infection. The surgery was a success, although the patient died 14 days later. 

The low long-term survival rates—most patients died soon after surgery because of organ rejection or infection—led many doctors to abandon the procedure by the early 1970s. Shumway, however, continued to improve the operation and advanced a drug that prevented organ rejection. Largely through his efforts, heart transplantation became a viable operation in the 1980s. 

In 1981 Shumway was part of a team that performed the first successful heart-lung transplant. His other major achievements included such open-heart procedures as the transplantation of valves.

He was honored with the ISHLT Lifetime Achievement Award on March 15, 1996, at the ISHLT 16th Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions in New York, NY, USA.