Dr. Amy Fiedler had an unprecedented experience during a standard heart transplant surgery in December at the University of California, San Francisco. The entire surgical team, including the perfusionist, nursing staff, and the patient, were all women. Dr. Fiedler, a cardiothoracic surgeon, asked if it had ever happened before and the team was overjoyed to realize that it was likely the first all-women team to perform a heart transplant. Despite being underrepresented in the field of cardiac surgery, Dr. Fiedler believes that the historic moment was simply based on luck due to the on-call schedule. Dr. Laura Scrimgeour, a cardiac surgery fellow, acknowledges the barriers for women in the field and feels fortunate to have Dr. Fiedler as a mentor. The team hopes to inspire the next generation of medical professionals and break down barriers for anyone, regardless of gender or ethnicity.
The team also hopes that their all-women team can help to inspire other young women who want to become doctors, especially in the field of cardiac surgery. They want to encourage and support the next generation to see that there are no barriers to what they can achieve.
Fiedler hopes that this historic moment will help to bring attention to the need for greater diversity in the medical field. Women are still underrepresented in many areas of medicine, including cardiac surgery, and there is a need for greater support and mentorship for women who want to pursue a career in this field.
The team at UCSF also emphasizes the importance of teamwork in their success. They explain that it takes a team of individuals with different skills and perspectives to perform a successful heart transplant. This is a lesson that they hope to pass on to future generations of doctors, regardless of gender.
The all-women team at UCSF is proud of their accomplishment, but they know that there is still much work to be done to increase diversity in medicine. They hope that their success will inspire other women to pursue careers in medicine and to push for greater equality and representation in the field.
Dr. Scrimgeour adds that this moment was especially meaningful for her because she lost her mother to heart disease when she was young. “To be a part of a team that is making such a big impact on people’s lives, and is also showing representation and paving the way for future generations, is something I take a lot of pride in,” she says.
While the team at UCSF hopes to continue to increase diversity and representation in the cardiac surgery field, they also want to emphasize that their goal is to provide the best care for their patients, regardless of gender. “Our focus is always on the patient and the excellence of the care we deliver,” Fiedler says.
As for the patient, Gaye is now recovering and doing well. She spoke with TODAY.com through a translator and expressed her gratitude to the all-women team who performed her heart transplant.
“I want to thank them, especially the woman who donated her heart,” she says. “I know that she is probably resting in peace and is probably looking over me, and I will never forget that.”
Overall, the all-women team that performed a heart transplant at UCSF represents a major milestone for women in the field of cardiac surgery. They hope that their success will inspire and encourage more women to pursue careers in medicine, and that diversity and representation will continue to improve in the medical field.