55 years after the first bypass: René Favaloro changed the history of coronary medicine

A 55 years since the first bypassthe technique developed by the Argentine doctor Rene Favaloro that changed the history of coronary heart disease in the world, different health professionals Favaloro Foundation expressed their gratitude for a technique that saved “countless lives” and faced one of the “main scourges of health”.

In 1967, on a day like today, the renowned cardiologist implemented the bypass technique for the first time in the history of medicine. It happened in a clinic. Cleveland, United States, where Favaloro was studying and perfecting his knowledge in various treatments of cardiac pathologies. There he intervened a woman of 51 years operated, who in addition to saving his life, had an excellent recovery.

The president of the foundation and niece of the doctor, Liliana Favaloro, publicly recalled that, in the 1960s, “Patients died from coronary heart disease” since they had “minimal therapeutic resources”. It was in this context that the development of coronary bypass surgery “decreased death and improved life expectancy and quality of life for patients”.

For his part, the Head of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery of the Favaloro Foundation, Alejandro Bertolotti, former student and colleague of the renowned doctor, said: “The bypass changed the history of coronary disease, improving the quality of life of patients with this pathology, which is one of the main scourges that human beings have”. And he highlighted: “It had an immeasurable impact on medicine, it has really saved countless lives affected by cardiovascular diseases, which are the main cause of mortality in Argentina and the world”.

What does it consist of

The bypass technique or myocardial revascularization surgery consists of a special treatment for coronary artery disease, which causes a decrease in the blood flow that these arteries, which are “the most important of the heart“.

“What Dr. Favaloro designed is to build a bridge (bypass) so that the blood passes over the diseased part of the coronary artery and reaches the other side, connecting the healthy part of the artery with the aorta”detailed Bertolotti.

Short biography

Favaloro was born on July 12, 1923 in the neighborhood “The Mondongo” from the city of At payment. Since the 4 years old, tells in his official biography that René expressed his desire to be “doctor”.

In 1949 he graduated from the Faculty of Medical Sciences of the National University of La Plata and, shortly after, he went to Jacinto Arauz, a small rural town in La Pampa, to substitute for the only doctor in town. There he remained about 12 years committed to the town and his work.

Later, in the 1960s, he decided to travel to Cleveland to specialize in cardiovascular surgery together with prominent local health professionals, and it was there that Favaloro put his ideas into practice for the first time in May 1967, in an intervention that resulted in “the pivotal job of his career.”

In 1971 he returned to Argentina with the dream of developing a center of excellence similar to that of the Cleveland Clinic, combining medical care, research and education, as he said in his letter of resignation to Effler:

“Once again fate has placed a difficult task on my shoulders. I am going to dedicate the last third of my life to building a Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery in Buenos Aires. At this particular moment, circumstances indicate that I am the only one with the possibility to do so. This Department will be dedicated, in addition to medical assistance, to postgraduate education with residents and fellows, to postgraduate courses in Buenos Aires and in the most important cities in the country, and to clinical research. As you can see, we will follow the principles of the Cleveland Clinic”. (From La Pampa to the United States).

For this purpose, he created the Favaloro Foundation in 1975 along with other collaborators and strengthened the work he had been developing since his return to the country. One of his greatest pride was having trained more than four hundred and fifty residents from all over Argentina and Latin America.

He contributed to raising the level of the specialty for the benefit of patients through innumerable courses, seminars and congresses organized by the Foundation, among which Cardiology for the Consultant stands out, which takes place every two years. To date, at the Favaloro Foundation, there have already been “more than 13 thousand cardiovascular surgeries of which 30% were bypasses”.

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