International Society for Heart & Lung Transplantation Honors Dr. O.H. Frazier with 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. O.H. Frazier | Texas Heart Institute

Houston, TX (April 19, 2018) – Dr. O.H. Frazier was honored as the 2018 recipient of the International Society for Heart & Lung Transplantation (ISHLT) Lifetime Achievement Award at last week’s ISHLT 38th Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions in Nice, France. This lifetime achievement award is reserved only for those whose lifetime body of work has made a significant contribution toward improving the care of patients with advanced heart or lung disease, and Dr. Frazier is one of only seven recipients of this highly prestigious award from this 38-year-old society.

Dr. Frazier is widely regarded as a pioneer in the treatment of severe heart failure, and in the development and innovation of the fields of heart transplantation and artificial devices. With a career spanning more than three decades, he has performed over 1,300 heart transplants and implanted more than 1,000 left ventricular assist devices – more than any other surgeon in the world.

“Dr. Frazier’s drive to push the boundaries of cardiovascular research and patient care has helped Texas Heart Institute become one of the top transplantation and mechanical circulatory support programs in the world,” said Dr. James T. Willerson, President Emeritus, Texas Heart Institute. “On behalf of the Texas Heart Institute, I wish to congratulate Dr. Frazier for his global contributions to alleviate patient suffering. He has extended the life of patients around the world with heart failure and other serious cardiovascular conditions for half a century and we are very proud of his accomplishments.”

Dr. Frazier’s interest in mechanical circulatory support began in 1963 as a medical student at Baylor College of Medicine, when he wrote a research paper about the experimental total artificial heart. Following a year in Vietnam as a combat flight surgeon, he completed his general surgery residency under Dr. Michael E. DeBakey. Dr. Frazier then did his cardiac training at Texas Heart Institute (THI) under its founder, Dr. Denton A. Cooley, so that he could continue heart assist device research.

While the heart transplantation program at THI was revolutionary, many patients were too weak to wait for a viable heart transplant. In an effort to assist patients’ hearts until heart transplantation was an option, through the 1970s and 1980s, Dr. Frazier explored developing an implantable left ventricular assist device (LVAD) to aid the failing heart. In 1980, he implanted the first LVAD, and in 1988, he implanted the first continuous-flow LVAD with the Hemopump. In 2000, Dr. Frazier implanted the first Jarvik constant-flow pump, and then in 2003, he implanted the first HeartMate II, a device that has since become the most widely used implantable LVAD in the world.

Conventional approaches to the development of an artificial heart attempted to mimic the beating of a normal human heart, but, these designs were often too large for some patients and mechanical components were subjected to great amounts of wear and tear. In 2011, Dr. Frazier implanted the first successful continuous-flow total artificial heart, or an artificial heart without a heartbeat, using two second generation HeartMate II LVADs to totally replace a patient’s failing heart.

Now, as a professor of surgery at Baylor College of Medicine and as Director of Cardiovascular Surgical Research at Texas Heart Institute, Dr. Frazier continues to pursue new innovations in mechanical circulatory support and patient care.

Congratulations to Dr. Frazier on this career-defining achievement. Texas Heart Institute is honored to have such a successful, world-renowned medical professional and leader as a part of the team working to unveil the next first in cardiovascular discovery.

To learn more about the ISHLT Lifetime Achievement Award, visit their website here.