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Heart to Heart Archive

Heart to Heart from Dr. James T. Willerson

June 6, 2012

Dear Friend of the Texas Heart Institute,

 Albert and Brian Benoit
Father and Son,
Albert and Brian Benoit

I always love a story that begins with, "You won't believe this, but …", and with Father's Day fast approaching, just such a story involves a father and son, Albert and Brian Benoit, both heart patients.  

It is a remarkable story of love, courage under pressure, and how a single heart pump helped save two lives. Watch the Benoits telling their own story and talking about some of the lessons they have learned.

The heart pump in the story was developed at THI, and our own Dr. O.H. "Bud" Frazier implanted the first one in a patient in 2003. These ventricular assist devices (VADs) have since helped thousands of patients around the world.  

This is one of the many reasons we have established a new Center for Minimally Invasive Cardiothoracic Surgery being headed by Dr. William "Billy" Cohn, who also has been deeply involved in developing new heart pumps and technology.  

Almost 6 million people in the U.S. are living with heart failure and many thousands are newly diagnosed each year. Yet, in large part because of a shortage of donor organs, the U.S. has seen only about 2,000 heart transplants performed annually for many years now. Heart-assist devices take on a new importance when you know these staggering statistics.  

You can learn more about the pumps on our website, and I hope you will take a look at the Benoits' story for yourself. It is inspiring. Also, please tune in when Houston's KTRK-TV, Ch. 13 airs a report on the Benoits at the start of the Father's Day weekend on Friday, June 15.  


WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart DiseaseOn another front, Dr. Stephanie Coulter, director of THI Center for Women's Heart & Vascular Health, and I are very pleased to announce that the Center is now a member of WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.  

WomenHeart is the only national organization specifically dedicated to promoting women's heart health. Together, we act as a strong voice dedicated to improving the health and quality of life for the 42 million American women living with cardiovascular disease and other women at risk.  

Please visit the Center's website to learn more or the national organization at  


Texas Heart Institute: Celebrating 50 Years of ExcellenceFinally, please save the date, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012 to join us at the Westin Galleria Hotel to celebrate THI's 50th Anniversary, to look forward to the next 50 years and to help us honor our founder, Dr. Denton A. Cooley. Information is available here.  

Have a safe and heart-healthy summer, and a very happy Father's Day.    

With great respect,

James T. Willerson signature


  James T. Willerson, MD
  President and Medical Director

Contact Dr. Willerson

Read previous issues of Heart to Heart in the archives.

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