Cardiology Innovator Passes

Fri, 11/13/2009 - 5:46am

William Ganz, MD, and co-inventor of the Swan-Ganz catheter for measuring blood flow, died Tuesday of natural causes at the age 90 in Los Angeles.

“Dr. Ganz was a giant in medicine and in life,” said Prediman Shah, MD, director of the Cardiology Division at the Cedar-Sinai Heart Institute. “He changed the lives of millions through his significant contributions to medicine, but he never lost sight of the importance of family and friends.”

In 1966, Ganz joined the fledgling cardiology division at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he and then-Chief of Cardiology Jeremy Swan, MD, invented a balloon-tipped catheter to assess heart function in critically ill patients. The following year, Ganz developed a new method for measuring human blood flow that was incorporated into the Swan-Ganz catheter. The measurement method and catheter are still in use today.

In 1982, Ganz and P.K. Shah, MD, the current director of cardiology at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, collaborated on the first studies of treating heart attacks by dissolving coronary artery blood clots. The facility was the first in the U.S. to test the therapy in humans.

Ganz won the Distinguished Scientist Award from the American College of Cardiology in 2009. The accomplishments are even more impressive, given his trying personal experiences. Ganz was born in the central-European town of Kosice in 1919 and educated at the Charles University School of Medicine in Prague. During World War II, Ganz was incarcerated in a Nazi labor camp and then survived in the Jewish underground in Budapest. His family eventually fled Communist Eastern Europe and settled in Los Angeles.

Ganz is survived by his two sons, Peter Ganz, MD, and Thomas Ganz, MD.


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