UCLA Medical Center
The Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery is dedicated to excellence in patient care, advances in experimental and clinical research, and teaching. Accomplishments in 1994 to 1995 reflect the commitment to each of these important goals.
The Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery was officially established in July of 1955 with the arrival of the first Chief of Thoracic Surgery, James V. Maloney, M.D.. From 1949 until that time, cardiac and thoracic surgery procedures at UCLA were performed by. William P. Longmire Jr. M.D., Chairman of the Department of Surgery and Harry Muller, M.D. under the auspices of the Division of General Surgery.
When the UCLA hospital opened its doors in 1955, Donald Mulder, M.D. was a member of the first group of residents. Dr. Maloney appointed Dr. Mulder to the laboratory soon thereafter, and gave him the task of developing UCLA's first pump oxygenator for open heart surgery. John Gibbon of Philadelphia had already successfully utilized a pump oxygenator developed with the aid of IBM, and laboratories throughout the country hastened to develop improved models. Open heart surgery was previously performed under hypo thermic conditions. Patients were cooled systematically and the heart was stopped for a maximum of 10 minutes while simple open heart procedures, such as atrial septic defects(ASDs), were performed. Other procedures were performed in the "closed fashion". To open a valve, the surgeon bluntly forced his finger or a dilating instrument through the narrowed valved to achieve a more adequate opening.
In February 1956, just seven months after the arrival of Drs. Maloney and Mulder, UCLA's pump oxygenator was constructed, tested experimentally, and then proven clinically successful. The scope of cardiac surgery at UCLA changed as a result and the division of Thoracic Surgery took a major step towards becoming the outstanding Cardiothoracic Surgery program it is today. James Maloney, M.D. served as Chief of Thoracic Surgery for 21 years. He became the second Chairman of the Department of Surgery, and served from 1976 to 1981. Donald Mulder, M.D. became Chief of Thoracic Surgery in 1976 and served in that capacity until 1981. He became Acting Chairman for the Department of Surgery in 1988. Hillel Laks, M.D. became Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery in 1981. Dr. Laks has been responsible for the development of the adult and pediatric heart transplant program and extensive development of new techniques in adult and pediatric heart surgery. James Maloney, M.D. and Donald Mulder, M.D. became emeritus in 1991, though the division continues to rely on their expertise, benefit from their contributions, and build on the solid foundation they laid. In March of 2007, Richard J. Shemin, M.D. was recruited to be professor and chief of cardiothoracic surgery. Dr. Shemin brings an expertise in Robot Minimally Invasive Valve surgery to UCLA. He is a world renown surgeon, who was also recruited to be Executive Vice Chairman of the Department of Surgery and Co-Director of the UCLA Cardiovascular Center at the Ronald Reagan Hospital. Already making an impact, Dr. Shemin has brought the division cutting edge, state of the art surgical techniques.