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The History of Pediatric Cardiology at Yale

Dr. Ruth Whittemore

1947: Dr. Ruth Whittemore sets up the first pediatric cardiology referral center in New England at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

1949: Yale medical student William Sewell builds the forerunner of the artificial heart.

1956: Dr. William Glenn performs Connecticut's first open heart surgery.

1958: Dr. Glenn develops a surgical technique that greatly improves the survival rate of patients with congenital cardiac malformations. The "Glenn Shunt" connects the superior vena cava directly into the lung artery, allowing blood to partially bypass the right heart, obtain oxygen in the lungs and provide the body with oxygenated blood.

Dr. William Glenn

1959-64: Dr. Glenn and associates pioneer the world's first radiofrequency-powered cardiac and diaphragmatic pacemakers for use in children.

1960's: Dr. Horace Stansel operates on pediatric heart patients at Yale. The Damus-Kaye-Stansel procedure later becomes a key component of many pediatric cardiac procedures.

1970's: Yale's Dr. Michael Berman develops a special "balloon tip" catheter that allows physicians to navigate safely in the heart during cardiac catheterization procedures. The Berman catheter remains a staple catheter for angiographic studies in heart disease throughout the world.

1980's: Yale School of Medicine physicians and researchers develop techniques for use of human heart valves in children with congenital defects.

1984: Yale opens the nation's first fetal cardiovascular center, making possible the diagnosis of 95 percent of major heart defects in utero. Dr. Charles Kleinman becomes an early leader in the field of fetal echocardiography.

Cardiology

1990's: Yale's Dr. William Hellenbrand and John Fahey pioneers the use of therapeutic cardiac catheterization to repair some congenital heart defects without open heart surgery. The next generation of these devices continue to be used by our interventional cardiologists today.

2004: The Yale-New Haven Adult Congenital Heart Program begins. As the first such integrated program in the state, its mission is to care for the many patients who represent the long-term successes of prior surgical interventions performed by Drs. Glenn and Stansel and their successors for congenital heart disease.

2008: The first hybrid procedures, those utilizing the combined expertise of our Pediatric Cardiac Interventional Catheterization experts working collaboratively with our Pediatric Congenital Heart Surgeons is performed.

2010: Research advances in understanding the development of congenital heart disease and the growth of tissue valves and blood vessels in a laboratory further the understanding and treatment of congenital heart disease.

2016: Yale implants its 100th transcatheter pulmonary valve, making it one of the busiest cath labs in the country and the only in the state of Connecticut to offer this service. Our physicians continue to evolve the treatment with clinical trials and education for other congenital heart centers around the country. 

2018: Yale opens a dedicated pediatric cardiac intensive care unit, the only one in the State of Connecticut, to provide expert post-operative care and continuity in a dedicated unit with dedicated staffing.