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Lucio Parenzan

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 22 April 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2365
  1. Ned Stafford, Hamburg
  1. ns{at}

Pioneer of paediatric cardiac surgery in Italy

In the late 1950s Lucio Parenzan, already a paediatrician, left his native Italy for the USA to train in paediatric surgery at Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital. During his training he lived in the hospital— this allowed him to save money, with which he planned to buy a fancy sports car on his return to Italy.

“He dreamt of having a red Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint,” says Francesco Roncalli, who is Parenzan’s brother in law and author of Parenzan’s biography.[1]

During his training in Pittsburgh, however, his career goals shifted dramatically. He realised that his future would be paediatric cardiac surgery. So before his return to Italy he used his savings to buy a “heart-lung machine,” used by surgeons to provide cardiopulmonary bypass while operating on the heart.

“He was the man who brought modern paediatric cardiac surgery to Italy,” says Robert Anderson, emeritus professor of paediatric cardiac morphology at the Institute of Child Health, University College London.

Parenzan was recognised around the world for his work at the Riuniti Hospital of Bergamo in northern Italy, says Anderson, who in 2001 wrote a paper on …

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