Norman Shumway

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Norman Shumway
Born (1923-02-09)February 9, 1923
Kalamazoo, Michigan
Died February 10, 2006(2006-02-10) (aged 83)
Palo Alto, California
Nationality United States
Fields Heart Surgery
Institutions Stanford University
Alma mater John Tarleton Agricultural College, Baylor University, Vanderbilt University, University of Minnesota
Known for Organ transplant Ciclosporin
Notable awards Lister Medal (1994)

Norman Edward Shumway (February 9, 1923 – February 10, 2006) was a pioneer of heart surgery at Stanford University. He is widely regarded as the father of heart transplantation.

Early life

Shumway was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He attended the University of Michigan for one year as an undergraduate until he was drafted by the Army in 1943, which sent him to John Tarleton Agricultural College in Stephenville, Texas for engineering training. He then underwent Army Specialized Training, which included nine months of pre-medical training at Baylor University, followed by enrollment at Vanderbilt University for medical school. He received his M.D. from Vanderbilt in 1949. He did his residency at the University of Minnesota under Walt Lillehei[1] alongside future fellow transplantation pioneer Christiaan Barnard, and was awarded a surgical doctorate in 1956. In 1958, he began working as an instructor in surgery at Stanford Hospital in San Francisco, California, and later, in Palo Alto when the hospital was moved.

He spent many years training promising young residents of cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery at Stanford University. Among his notable trainees is Stanford cardiologist Hannah Valantine, a native of Gambia who was appointed in 2014 as the U.S. National Institutes of Health Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity.[2]

Heart transplant pioneer

In collaboration with Randall B. Griepp,[3] he was the first doctor to successfully carry out a human heart transplant operation in the United States in 1968, after Barnard's 1967 operation in South Africa, which was based upon the work of Shumway and Richard Lower.[1] The early years of the procedure were difficult, with few patients surviving for long. Shumway was the only American surgeon to continue performing the operation after others abandoned it after poor results.

In the 1970s he and his team refined the operation, tackling the problems of rejection and the necessity for potentially dangerous drugs to suppress the immune system. In particular he pioneered the use of cyclosporine, instead of traditional drugs, which made the operation safer.[4]


Family life

Shumway's marriage to the former Mary Lou Stuurmans ended in divorce. The couple had four children, one of whom directs heart and lung transplantation at the University of Minnesota.

He died of lung cancer in Palo Alto in 2006, on the day after his 83rd birthday.[6][7]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 McRae, D. (2007). Every Second Counts. Berkley.
  2. "Hannah Valantine, M.D., named NIH's first Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity". News & Events. National Institutes of Health. 20 January 2014. Retrieved 8 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Arthur H. Aufses, Barbara Niss, This house of noble deeds: the Mount Sinai Hospital, 1852-2002, Google Books
  4. Pioneers of Heart Surgery, PBS, 8 April 1997
  5. The Newsletter of the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation, Volume 1, Issue 1,, Summer 1998
  6. "Norman Shumway, Heart Transplantation Pioneer, Dies At 83", Stanford University School of Medicine News, 2 October 2006
  7. Altman, Lawrence K. (February 11, 2006). "Norman E. Shumway, 83, Who Made the Heart Transplant a Standard Operation, Dies". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>