Norman Shumway was born in 1923 in Kalamazoo, and grew up in Jackson, Michigan. He was one of six outstanding army recruits chosen to study medicine. He obtained his MD from Vanderbilt Medical School in 1949 and went to the University of Minnesota for training. Open heart surgery was in its infancy when he came to Minnesota. Within the next 5 years, the very first successful operation inside the human heart was performed there by Shumway’s mentors. The heart-lung machine was not yet sufficiently developed and the Minnesota surgeons used total body hypothermia and subsequently cross-circulation to repair vascular defects in children. Having assisted in these early operations, Shumway decided to join the young field of Cardiothoracic Surgery. He left Minnesota after nine years of residency, fellowship, and a PhD. Degree to join the Department of Surgery at Stanford University where he continued his research leading to the first heart transplantation in the United States that he performed in 1968.
Professor Shumway made remarkable achievements in the field of Cardiothoracic Surgery. He led the Stanford’s program in heart and, subsequently heart-lung, transplantation, to unequalled success. More than 1300 heart transplants were carried out at Stanford, and over 60,000 world-wide, all because Norman Shumway started it, continued it and studied it. One of his other lasting legacies was the training program in Cardiothoracic Surgery that he established at Stanford. After retirement, he was appointed the Frances and Charles D. Field Emeritus Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Stanford University, a position he retained until his death in February 2006. Professor Norman Shumway authored and co-authored more than 500 articles and book chapters. He also co-edited the book, Thoracic Transplantation, jointly with his daughter who is currently a Professor of Cardiac Surgery at the University of Minnesota.
Professor Shumway was awarded numerous honorary degrees from academic institutions worldwide, as well as scientific achievement awards from the American College of Surgeons, the American Association for Thoracic surgery and the American Surgical Association, among many others. He was also awarded the King Faisal International Prize for Medicine, Rene Leriche Prize from the International Surgical Society, Lister Medal from the Royal College of Surgeons of England, Medawar Prize from the Transplantation Society, Prince Mahidol Prize, the first Texas Heart Institute Medal in Cardiovascular Disease and the Vanderbilt University Distinguished Alumnus Award. He was the President of the Western Thoracic Surgical Association and the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, as well as Honorary Lifetime President of the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation. He was an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons of England, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Ireland.
Professor Shumway died in 2006.
Dr. Shumway, has been awarded the prize, to considered by many as the father of heart transplantation. His first experiments were in dogs. The first human heart transplant, while performed by Dr. Barnard, was based entirely on Dr. Shumway’s work. He introduced endomyocardial biopsy for the diagnosis of rejection, a major advance in managing these patients. Introduction of cyclosporin allowed the Stanford program to expand and establish the efficacy of clinical heart transplantation . Dr. Shumway is credited with the first successful transplantation of the heart and both lungs, which is now an established therapy for patients with end-stage cardiopulmonary disease. Because of his reputation as a pioneer in the field and the success of his program he trained many surgeons who came to Stanford to learn his techniques. His contributions are documented in almost 500 publications.