American Surgical Association Transactions

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1930 - 2017

Hassan Najafi, M.D., 1930-2017

Dr. Hassan Najafi passed away on May 20, 2017 two days shy of his 88th birthday. An immigrant from Iran, Dr. Najafi graduated at the top of his class from the Tehran University School of Medicine in 1954. After two years of preliminary surgical training in Iran, he came to the US to finish his training and Rush University Medical Center was the very fortunate recipient of his talents. Originally planning to be an orthopedic surgeon, he was influenced by Dr. Ormand Julian to train in cardiovascular surgery. He trained alongside Dr. Hushang Javid, another Iranian surgeon who developed the Javid shunt for carotid endarterectomies.

Dr. Najafi's early years at Rush paralleled a rapid and exciting time in the development of cardiac surgery. He was intimately involved in the development of bubble oxygenators and cardioplegia to prevent myocardial necrosis. In December 1968, he performed the first heart transplantation in Chicago, IL. In 1972, he was selected as the Chairman of the Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery. A position he held for the next 25 years. During his tenure Rush Cardiovascular surgery rose to national prominence. He presided over a training program which saw 56 trainees become board certified and contribute to our field in all corners of the country.

Dr. Najafi's contributions to his institution and the field of cardiac surgery are legion and seminal. He was a founding member of the Thoracic Surgery Directors Association convened in 1975 and served as its President for the first two years. He was a member of the American Board of Thoracic Surgery from 1977 - 1987 and served as its chair his final two years. He held many positions of leadership in the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and served as its 18th president in 1982.

In addition to his formidable leadership, Dr. Najafi was a masterful technical surgeon. He was particularly proficient at resection of ascending and descending thoracic aneurysms and repair of aneurysm dissection. He was adept at all aspects of cardiac and peripheral vascular surgery and his surgical results were outstanding.

His was truly a life well lived. Married to a loving wife of 58 years, father to four children and grandfather to eight. Always impeccably dressed, calm and well-mannered. He was a dignified and gracious man who took a genuine interest in all people he encountered. His contributions to our field and society at large were truly remarkable.