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Manitoban cardiac surgery pioneer to be honoured at St. Boniface Hospital

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A special anniversary at St. Boniface Hospital will be celebrated by honouring a Manitoba pioneer in the cardiac care field today.

the name of Dr. Morley Cohen, who performed the first open heart surgery in this province 55 years ago this month, will appear on a plaque and on a dedicated a conference room in the I. H. Asper Clinical Research Institute which houses the cardiac sciences program at the St. Boniface Hospital.

An exhibition tracing the history and evolution of cardiac sciences in Manitoba from its inception until the present time has also been installed for public viewing.

"The early 1950s saw a small group of pioneering surgeons at the University of Minnesota literally invent open heart surgery. Winnipeg’s own Dr. Morley Cohen was one of those pioneers," offered Charles LaFlèche, president and CEO of the St. Boniface Hospital Foundation, in a statement.

"With its long history of innovation in health delivery, it is not surprising Dr. Cohen established his cardiac surgery program at St. Boniface Hospital."

Born in Winnipeg in 1923, Cohen grew up in the North End. He graduated with a medical degree from the University of Manitoba in 1948 and pursued graduate studies in surgery at the University of Minnesota before returning to Winnipeg in 1955. He created a cardiology unit at St. Boniface Hospital and taught at the University of Manitoba for the next three decades. He died in August 2005 at age 81.

Today also marks the 10-year anniversary of the cardiac program at the medical facility. In 2004, it was determined via the Koshal Report (2003) to improve the delivery of cardiac services to Manitobans by moving cardiac surgery, cardiology, cardiac anesthesia, and cardiac intensive care to St. Boniface Hospital. Since then, the program has attracted numerous internationally recognized specialists and established itself as a leading cardiac care provider in Canada.

According to the hospital, the cardiac sciences program conducts over 50,000 patient visits, 17,000 echocardiography exams, and 1,200 cardiac surgeries per year.

History

Updated on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 1:02 PM CST: Updates reference to plaque

1:05 PM: Adds biographical information on Dr. Cohen.

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