Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Starr of Cardiac Surgery


Now full processed and waiting for cataloging, and soon to be available for checkout from the Main Library, is the oral history interview with Dr. Albert Starr, co-developer of the Starr-Edwards heart valve. Starr was interviewed in February of 2006 by OHSU trauma surgeon Dr. Richard J. Mullins. Surgeon to surgeon, the two talked about the experience of performing a type of surgery that no one has ever performed before:

MULLINS: I’d like to discuss what it was like as the surgeon doing operations that you can’t read about in a book and finding something that is unexpected. You must have had that happen. Was that stressful?

STARR: Yes. In a word, yes, it was quite stressful. But it was a kind of stress that’s exciting stress. I mean, we—your own life is not on the line, so it’s a different kind of stress than the stress I experienced in Korea, for example. It’s more of an intellectual stress, trying to figure out—you know, nature’s out to get you, so how can I get around it. It’s that kind of feeling. It’s more like a game stress than it is a war stress or a personal issue in your own personal life.

MULLINS: Is this where your training with Dr.—was it Chambers?

STARR: Chamberlain.

MULLINS: Chamberlain, was helpful?

STARR: Yes, it was. Chamberlain was a very cerebral, very physical engineering-type mind. There’s a project, and let’s do it fast, but also elegant. It had a flow, it was like a ballet. One thing had to lead logically into another; no horsing around, just very methodical, logical, and elegant.

MULLINS: So did you just have to teach yourself how to put the sutures in the ring, the annulus?

STARR: Yes.

MULLINS: Not too deep and not too…

STARR: Yes, all those things. The animal experience was very valuable. The humans were easy compared to the animals.

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