These Healthcare Professionals Likely to Be the First All-Women Team to Perform a Heart Transplant

These Healthcare Professionals Likely to Be the First All-Women Team to Perform a Heart Transplant

The room was full of women, including the patient.

During the finishing touches of a standard heart transplant surgery in December, cardiothoracic surgeon at University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Amy Fiedler, noticed the team in the operating room was all women.

According to Today, Fiedler, the only female cardiac surgeon at UCSF, explained how unusual it was that the surgical team was all women, since females are underrepresented in most areas of cardiac surgery.

Dr. Charlene Blake, cardiac anesthesiologist, Fatou Gaye, Dr. Amy Fiedler, cardiac surgeon, and Ashley Risso, perfusionist, outside of UCSF.
Courtesy (USCF)

“Has this ever happened before?” Fiedler said she asked cardiac anesthesiologist Dr. Charlene Blake.

“‘Wow, it took this long for something like this to happen?'” Blake said.

“To be in a position at an institution where we have a woman cardiac surgery attending, a woman cardiothoracic anesthesiologist and then a woman cardiac surgery trainee, it’s just really unique to have all of those pieces fall into place,” Fiedler said.

Fiedler explained that the historic moment was not planned, as the case is based on an effectively random call schedule, and this was the team who were on call for patient Fatou Gaye‘s case.

“To be part of a historic moment, it was empowering. It was lovely,” Blake added. “But it was also another day at work. This happened by random, but nothing is truly random.”

“The training takes up a lot of time in your life,” Dr. Laura Scrimgeour, the cardiac surgery fellow for the case, said. “It takes a lot of dedication, and it’s also just traditionally been something that only men have done.”

Scrimgeour is proud to be a part of the group of women who have all gone down different paths before coming together in their place of employment.

“I go to work every day because I love cardiac surgery,” Fiedler said. “To be able to be a part of something bigger that can hopefully inspire the next generation of [individuals] — be it boys, girls, people of color — for anyone to look at us and say, ‘There’s no barriers and I can do this,’ that’s really what makes it worth it.”