Keith Reemtsma Society for Cardiovascular Medicine

The Keith Reemtsma Society for Cardiovascular Medicine will serve the primary function of facilitating the interaction of students who share a common interest in cardiovascular medicine and or science. The goals of this interaction should be to exchange ideas, discuss problems and share experiences related to the field of cardiology. The development and fostering of professional collegiality amongst like-minded peers should remain at the forefront of all of the society's meetings and events.

About Keith Reemtsma, MD

Keith Reemtsma was a former president of The American Association for Thoracic Surgery and chairman of the Department of Surgery of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons from 1971 to 1994. He had an overarching vision that surgery should be transformed from a predominantly destructive discipline of incision, excision, and amputation to a creative discipline of reconstruction, repair, replacement, and renewal.

As chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of Utah from 1966 to 1971, he assembled the team that ultimately produced the first artificial heart. He was the first to show that a mechanical circulatory assist device, the intra-aortic balloon pump, could serve as a mechanical bridge to heart transplantation. He founded the International Center for Health Outcomes and Innovation Research, a pioneering collaboration with Columbia's School of Public Health, to measure the outcomes of surgical intervention and understand the process of innovation in order to catalyze meaningful improvement in the quality of surgery and medicine at large.

Reemtsma's most creative and controversial work was in the field of cross-species transplantation. His early demonstration of the feasibility of chimpanzee-to-human kidney transplants, just before the era of hemodialysis, offered proof almost 40 years before the Human Genome Project of man's similarity to other species.

His societal leadership positions included president of the Society of Clinical Surgery in 1976, president of the AATS, 1990-1991, and first vice president of the American Surgical Association in 1992.

In recapitulating his own career whenhe was recognized for his life's work by the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation, Keith paraphrased the inscription in St Paul's Cathedral in London serving as an epitaph to its architect, Christopher Wren: "If you seek my monument, look around you."

Dr. Reemtsma died on June 23, 2000.

Adapted from J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2000;120:627-628.

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