Health network commemorates Magovern legacy

Endowed chair pays tribute to cardiac care achievements

December 2, 2017 Cranberry Local News

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PITTSBURGH — Allegheny Health Network commemorated six decades of outstanding cardiac care at a special event last month at Allegheny General Hospital.

The event at AGH’s Magovern Auditorium included a formal announcement that AHN had started fundraising efforts to establish the Magovern Endowed Chair for Cardiothoracic Surgery. The chair will ensure the Magovern family’s legacy at AGH endures and flourishes for years to come.

“Today, we are honoring a legacy of excellence and innovation in cardiac surgery that has set the standard for exceptional patient care in our region and nationally for nearly three quarters of a century,” said Cynthia Hundorfean, president and CEO of AHN.

The Magovern name has been synonymous with cardiothoracic surgical excellence in the Pittsburgh region and beyond for seven decades. In November AHN marked the 60th anniversary of Dr. George Magovern Sr.’s arrival at AGH.

“From the early pioneering efforts of (Dr. Magovern), through the extraordinary work of his two sons and the hundreds of other outstanding caregivers who have touched this program, there has been and continues to be no better place to turn for the most advanced and compassionate cardiovascular care,” said Hundorfean.

Magovern’s oldest son, Dr. George Magovern Jr., said his father would have been proud of the endowed chair and the system’s outstanding cardiac care.

“My father would have been incredibly proud knowing this chair is being established in our family’s name,” said Magovern. “This endowed chair will play a crucial role in helping AHN remain one of the country’s leading cardiovascular program.”

The Magovern family’s presence at AGH doubled in 1985, when George Magovern Jr. was recruited to join his father’s surgical team and start heart transplant and mechanical cardiac assist programs at AGH. When the American Board of Thoracic Surgery selected Magovern for membership in 2011, he and his father became the only father-son team of cardiac surgeons to serve on the board since its inception in 1948.

The elder Magovern retired from AGH in 1998 and died in 2013. But his legacy at AGH includes dramatic advances that changed life expectancy for patients suffering from aortic valve disease. Magovern partnered with a local engineer, Harry Cromie, in 1962 to develop the Magovern-Cromie sutureless prosthetic aortic valve.

The device turned a surgery with an almost one-in-five mortality rate into a nearly routine procedure. The revolutionary valve was used throughout the country well into the 1970s.

In 1989 another of Magovern’s sons, Dr. James Magovern, joined his father and brother on Pittsburgh’s North Side. He went on to make his mark in research, and served as AGH’s first director of cardiac surgery research. He also later became the first division chief in cardiac surgery before succumbing to cancer in 2007.

That was the same year AGH launched its Cardiovascular Institute under the leadership of Dr. Srinivas Murali, whom George Magovern Jr. recruited to oversee the new initiative. In the past decade it has established and expanded successful multidisciplinary programs that run the gamut of cardiovascular surgical and medical care.

That includes surgical treatment of atrial fibrillation, transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), diagnostic cardiology, women’s heart care, advanced heart failure and pulmonary hypertension, heart transplantation and mechanical circulatory support, thoracic aortic endovascular procedures, minimally-invasive and robotic-assisted open heart procedures, and mitral valve clip surgery.

Murali called the family’s legacy with AHN a guiding principle that continues to inform AHN’s model of care and patient outreach.

“The Magovern family’s impact on heart care in this region and beyond is truly immeasurable,” said Murali. “Building on the foundation established 60 years ago by Dr. Magovern Sr. — and always abiding by his commitment to provide innovative care for the patient — AHN continues to pioneer life-enhancing and life-saving cardiovascular surgical procedures and medical therapies, while always keeping the patient at the heart of everything we do.”

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