Intended for healthcare professionals


Lawrence Cohn

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: (Published 04 March 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i1298
  1. Ned Stafford
  1. Hamburg
  1. ns{at}

Leading cardiac surgeon renowned for expertise in valve repair and replacement surgery, and for minimally invasive technology

Lawrence H Cohn (b 1937; q Stanford University 1962), died from a stroke on 9 January 2016.

Taufiek Konrad Rajab

Lawrence Cohn had already decided he wanted to be a surgeon when he started his last year of medical studies in the autumn of 1961 at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. He felt that as a surgeon he could really “do something” to help people.1 But he was not yet sure which form of surgery to pursue. So he spent time talking with various Stanford surgeons to learn about their work. And then one day he met Norman Shumway.

Shumway and his young colleague, Richard Lower, at the time were conducting heart transplants on dogs, laying a foundation that they hoped would lead to human heart transplants. “He was hot stuff,” Cohn said years later of Shumway. “I sought him out and asked him if I could work on his service.”2 Shumway listened to the young aspiring surgeon and invited him to spend time in his laboratory.

“I helped in their lab a couple of times,” Cohn recalled. “And then one spring day in 1962 they said I could be a …

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