Obituaries

Valery Ivanovich Shumakov

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39521.777083.BE (Published 03 April 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:778
  1. Boleslav Lichterman

    Outstanding heart surgeon who performed the first successful heart transplantation in the USSR and had a star named after him

    Valery Ivanovich Shumakov was a leader in transplantation medicine in the former Soviet Union (USSR) and Russia. From 1974 until his death he directed the Research Institute for Organ and Tissue Transplantation (now the Research Institute of Transplantology and Artificial Organs). He was a pioneering cardiac surgeon who managed to overcome official bureaucratic barriers for recognition of brain death and performed the first successful heart transplantation in the USSR in 1987. For almost 20 years he was a coordinator of the Soviet-American collaboration on developing artificial hearts and mechanical circulation (Michael DeBakey was a coordinator from the American side). His numerous inventions include a mitral valve prosthesis and several types of artificial heart.

    Born in Moscow, the son of a construction engineer, he was fascinated by the beauty of the human body and human anatomy at secondary school and decided to be a surgeon. In 1950 he became a student of the medical faculty of the First Moscow Medical Institute (now the Sechenov Moscow Medical Academy). There he met his first teacher of surgery, Gleb Solovyev (obituary, BMJ 2004;329:1187), who was an aspirant (a postgraduate student preparing his kandidatskaya dissertation) at the chair of topographical anatomy and operative surgery and was obliged to teach undergraduates. In his book Memoirs of a Cardiac Surgeon (2002), Solovyev recalls that Shumakov, then a student just three years younger than him, asked the most difficult questions.

    Solovyev recommended Shumakov to the aspirantura (a three year postgraduate programme) at the chair of topographical anatomy and operative surgery and introduced him to Boris Petrovsky (obituary, BMJ 2004;328:1381), a pioneer of Soviet heart surgery. In his memoirs Solovyev wrote that his pupil was literally possessed by the …

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