Dr. Adrian Kantrowitz was a pioneer in the field of pediatric cardiology and an accomplished surgeon. On December 6, 1967, he and his team of surgeons completed the world’s first kid heart transplant at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. This surgery took place barely three days after Dr. Christiaan Barnard completed the world’s first human heart transplant in South Africa. As a result, Kantrowitz is credited with the world’s second human heart transplant. Those who knew him would not have been surprised to learn that he went on to become one of the best cardiologists of all time. Adrian, according to his mother, knew he wanted to be a doctor since he was three years old. He served in the Army for a few years after finishing his medical education before pursuing a career in cardiology. Before executing the heart surgery that would usher in a new era in human organ transplants, he had spent years studying the human heart and had performed multiple heart transplants on dogs. He also co-invented the intra-aortic balloon pump, which served as a predecessor to the implantable pacemaker, alongside his brother Arthur.
Childhood and Adolescence
Bernard Abraham and his wife Rose had him in New York City. His father was a doctor who owned a clinic in the Bronx, and his mother was a costume designer. Adrian has always had a fascination with medicine.
In his house, he and his older brother Arthur did numerous experiments, including the construction of a basic electrocardiograph and an automobile headlight.
In 1940, he graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School and received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from New York University.
In 1943, he graduated from Long Island College of Medicine with a doctorate in medicine. This was an expedited initiative to deliver trained doctors for the war effort.
A Career of Adrian Kantrowitz
In 1944, he enlisted in the United States Army Medical Corps as a battalion surgeon and served until 1946. He was stationed in Europe and Japan during this time.
He had previously interned at the Jewish Hospital of Brooklyn, where he worked with neurosurgeon Leo Davidoff, and after the war he went to Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York to pursue training in general and thoracic surgery.
In 1951-52, he received a US Public Health Service fellowship to study hemodynamics with prominent physiologist Carl Wiggers. He discovered the notion of “diastolic augmentation” or “counterpulsation” here, which would serve as the foundation for his further study.
In 1955, he was named Director of Cardiovascular Surgery at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn and Professor of Surgery at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, where he supervised a research team that developed various bioelectronic devices over the next 15 years.
He created his first mechanical LVAD in the early 1960s, which is a U-shaped device with an inflatable chamber. In 1966, he implanted the device in human patients after doing considerable animal studies.
He worked with General Electric on the development of an implantable artificial pacemaker, with the first one being placed in May 1961. The device’s pacing rate could be adjusted from 64 to 120 beats per minute.
He invented the intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP), which is a device that is inserted into the aorta to provide relief to individuals suffering from cardiogenic shock. This was his most well-known device for treating cardiac arrest.
He’d been investigating heart transplants for a long time and has performed hundreds of surgeries on dogs. He conducted the first human heart transplant on a newborn in the United States on December 6, 1967, just three days after the first human heart transplant in South Africa.
He was one of the pioneering cardiologists who helped to usher in the era of heart transplantation, and surgeons all over the world soon began transplanting human hearts. In 1968, approximately 100 heart transplants were performed.
In 1970, he moved to Sinai Hospital in Detroit as an attending surgeon and Chairman of the Department of Surgery, where he continued to experiment with heart transplants and partial artificial hearts.
He became a Clinical Professor of Surgery at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan, in 1970, and stayed there until 2008. He continued to investigate cardiac surgery throughout his life and discovered new and better ways to treat heart problems.
Major Projects of Adrian Kantrowitz
On December 6, 1967, he performed the first human heart transplant in the United States, removing the heart of a brain dead newborn and transplanting it into the chest of a 19-day-old infant with a cardiac abnormality.
Achievements & Awards of Adrian Kantrowitz
In 2001, the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs honored him with a lifetime achievement award for his contributions to cardiology, including his numerous innovations.
Personal History and Legacy
In 1948, he married Jean Rosensaft. His wife, who worked as an administrator at Maimonides Medical Center’s surgical research laboratories, was always by his side, and the two co-founded L.VAD Technology Inc. The couple had two girls and a boy, all of whom went on to become doctors.
He had a long life and made significant contributions to medical science, particularly cardiology. At the age of 90, he died in 2008.
Estimated Net Worth
Adrian Kantrowitz is estimated to have a net worth of $1 million to $3 million dollars. From his primary work as a surgeon, he has amassed a sizable fortune.