GERARD A. KAISER, M.D.
1932 - 2013
Gerard Kaiser was born in Brooklyn, received his Medical Degree from Columbia University, did a surgical residency at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, but spent his whole academic career in Miami, Florida where he made lasting contributions. In 1971, he was recruited to the University of Miami School of Medicine and Jackson Memorial Hospital as chief of cardiothoracic surgery, and specifically was tasked to develop a pediatric cardiac surgical program. The program flourished under his leadership for over 20 years, with milestones including excellence in teaching of residents and future pediatric cardiac surgeons, high quality outcomes in thousands of pediatric cardiac procedures, and the first successful heart transplant in South Florida. He created the “Lubb Dubb Club”, named for the sounds of the healthy heart beat of children he operated upon, and each summer held reunions for hundreds of his young heart patients, building lasting friendships with fellow patients as they transitioned into a productive adulthood.
But his greatest accomplishment may very well have been the role he played for the last two decades of his career in promoting the affiliation between Jackson Memorial Hospital and the University of Miami, School of Medicine. As Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of the Jackson Health System, and Senior Associate Dean of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, he helped forge a mutually beneficial relationship between a large county hospital and a private medical school, resulting in one of the largest residency training programs in the country (over 1000), providing quality care for patients of all ages regardless of financial classification. He was fundamentally involved in building support for the opening of the Ryder Trauma Center in 1992, and the growth in the transplant program which is now one of the busiest in the country. He was the bridge between the University of Miami and Jackson, respected by everyone, a great communicator who knew how to compromise and how to close a deal.
For helping Florida International University launch its medical school, Dr. Kaiser received the Benjamin Leon Jr. Founding Dean’s Award at the College inaugural class commencement. He also received the AXA Advisors Lifetime Achievement Award from the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce in 2005.
Dr. Kaiser left behind a large and loving family who were beside him as he passed away peacefully in Jackson Memorial Hospital, the institution he cared so much about and that he profoundly changed. His death has left a void among those who were touched by his surgical skills, by the children operated upon by him, the students and residents who he trained, and by his many colleagues and friends. He is sadly missed – there are few who exemplify integrity, morality, and decisiveness mixed with gentleness, more than he. He has made a lasting imprint on our Medical Center, and all the people who knew him.
ALAN S. LIVINGSTONE, MD