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1937 - 2019

Donald B. Doty, M.D., 1937 - 2019

Donald Benjamin Doty, M.D., died on June 26, 2019 surrounded by his family after a short but courageous battle with non-small cell lung cancer. Don was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, his family relocated to Hollywood, California, where he attended North Hollywood High School and UCLA. He subsequently graduated from Stanford Medical School in 1962, achieving Alpha Omega Alpha honors. Prior to his final year of medical school, Don married Cheryl Jean Killpack in the Los Angeles Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Upon his graduation from Stanford, Don and Cheryl returned to southern California, where Don completed his general surgery residency at the University of Southern California County General Hospital in Los Angeles.

Don enlisted in the United States Army Medical Corps at the height of the Vietnam War. He was initially stationed at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and was subsequently called up to serve a six-month tour of duty in Vietnam from January to July 1968. During his tour of duty in Vietnam, Don combined his technical ability with his keen observational mind on the operating tables of Army field hospitals in combat. He developed innovative techniques in vascular surgery, resulting in nearly 20 publications and instruments for trauma surgery. For his efforts, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious Achievement in Ground Operations Against Hostile Forces.

Following his honorable discharge from the Army, he embarked in residency in cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Alabama under the tutelage of Dr. John W. Kirklin. The powerful impact of Dr. Kirklin laid the foundation for a career dedicated to surgical innovation, research, and education. During these few years, he developed a close relationship with Drs. Nicholas Kouchoukos and Robert Karp, ultimately resulting in the three surgeons collaborating on the definitive textbook in cardiac surgery.

Don joined the cardiothoracic surgery department at the University of Iowa in 1971, where he flourished into a world-renowned expert in pediatric heart surgery. He enjoyed developing and writing about new operative techniques to solve complex congenital heart conditions, such as supravalvular aortic stenosis, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, and interventricular conduits.

In 1983, Don and his family moved to Utah to join the practice of Dr. Russell M. Nelson at the LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City. Over the next 23 years, he expanded his clinical acumen, publishing landmark articles on the surgical treatment of atrial fibrillation, superior vena cava syndrome, aortic root disease, and pectus excavatum. One paper described the technique for transplantation in situs inversus, encapsulating a career’s worth of knowledge in a single operation.

Don also generously gave time and expertise through volunteer teaching trips to China, the Soviet Union, New Zealand, and other countries around the globe, to train other physicians in the techniques of cardiac surgery. His philosophy was one of building and expanding the abilities of others in a way that these surgical programs could be self-sustaining to serve the needs of the local communities. His contributions were recognized by his election as president of the Western Thoracic Surgical Association as well as numerous local and international awards.

The son of two schoolteachers, Don placed great value on education and teaching. He incorporated the style of John Kirklin, standing next to his residents on the right side of the operating table in order to demonstrate surgical technique. To improve the knowledge of residents in thoracic surgical training in the University of Utah Affiliated Hospitals, he developed a two-year series of lectures to assist their studies for the examinations by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. When this was deemed successful, he expanded the lectures into the national and international CORE Curriculum Review course which has helped thousands of surgeons pass their certifying exams. His dedication to surgery and education was fully realized with the publication of “Cardiac Surgery: Operative Technique.” He often stated that he did not want to be the only one who could do a complex operation, but that he would rather teach others so more patients could benefit from shared knowledge.

After Don retired from his surgical practice in 2004, he was asked to serve as the volunteer chairman of Health Services for the Missionary Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Don and Cheryl served in that capacity for nine years, during which time they oversaw medical services and treatment for tens of thousands of missionaries throughout the world. In recognition of this dedicated and selfless service, Don was awarded a Doctor of Science and Christian Service degree, Honoris Causa, from Brigham Young University in 2015.

Don is survived by his wife Cheryl and sons David S. Doty, and Dr. John R. Doty. His influence will continue to be felt globally; his legacy is timeless.