First Recipient of Life-Saving Device Honored in 20-Year Milestone at Stanford

Wednesday (April 14)
STANFORD, Calif.--()--April 12, 2004--Twenty years ago, Robert St. Laurent, then 51, arrived at Stanford Hospital with a rapidly failing heart and no available donor for transplant. A team of cardiologists decided his desperate condition warranted a procedure that, up until then, had been tried only in animals: mechanically removing the workload from his heart by implanting a left ventricular assist device, or LVAD, to buy time until a suitable heart for transplant became available.

St. Laurent survived the procedure, gaining strength until a donor heart became available after eight days. He was the world's first patient to receive the device, which was developed by Peer Portner, MD, a consulting professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Stanford. Philip Oyer, MD, the Roy B. Cohn-Theodore A. Falasco Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery, implanted the device. Since that time, more than 4,000 patients worldwide have benefited from this technology.

Two decades later, St. Laurent is returning to Stanford from his Florida home to reunite with the team that saved his life. He'll be an honored guest at Stanford's annual heart, heart-lung and lung transplant reunion party April 14. The media are also invited to a press conference to meet St. Laurent and to talk with Portner, Oyer and Robert Robbins, MD, associate professor of cardiothoracic surgery and director of the heart-lung transplant program at Stanford Hospital. Robbins was recently named director of the Institute for Cardiovascular Medicine.

WHAT: Press conference with first LVAD patient followed by a reunion
party of heart, heart-lung and lung transplant patients

WHO: LVAD patient Robert St. Laurent; Drs. Robert Robbins, Phil Oyer
and Peer Portner will be available at the press conference; the
reunion party will include LVAD and heart and heart-lung transplant
patients, including former 49er Dean Moore and Mike Miraglia, whose
story became national news when a California prison inmate received a
heart initially destined for Miraglia

WHEN: Wednesday, April 14, 4 p.m. (press conference); 5 p.m. (reunion

WHERE: Lobby of the Falk Cardiovascular Research building (press
conference); lobby of Fairchild Auditorium (party)

RSVP: Robert Dicks at 650-497-8364

Stanford University Medical Center integrates research, medical education and patient care at its three institutions -- Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. For more information, please visit the Web site of the medical center's Office of Communication & Public Affairs at


Stanford University Medical Center
Mitzi Baker, 650-725-2106 (Print Media)
M.A. Malone, 650-723-6912 (Broadcast Media)


Stanford University Medical Center
Mitzi Baker, 650-725-2106 (Print Media)
M.A. Malone, 650-723-6912 (Broadcast Media)