Women created history in the US at UCSF Parnassus after successfully performing a heart transplant on a female patient.
This achievement was not even highlighted in the media until Valentine’s Day, when the Chronicle spoke about hearts – in the medical sense.
Dr. Amy Fiedler, an attending cardiac surgeon and assistant professor at the University of California San Francisco, who happened to be the team leader, was finishing up a routine heart transplant surgery when she noticed that the team was entirely composed of women. Even the nursing staff and the patient were all female!
Weird, right? Fielder said how surprised she was at the end of the operation when she realized that behind all the surgical masks and gear were all women!
“We did the surgery, just the same as we always do, and as we were finishing up, closing the final layers of the incision, I looked up, because that’s the time when we’re all chatting and listening to music and decompressing after the case goes well, and I said to Dr. Blake, ‘Wow, we’re all women here,'” Fiedler recalled.
Led by Dr. Amy Fiedler, the team was composed of six other healthcare professionals. They included Dr. Laura Scrimgeour, a Cardiothoracic Surgery Fellow at UCSF, Dr. Charlene Blake, an associate clinical professor and an anesthesiologist Specialist in San Francisco, California, Dr. Jacqueline Measer, an anesthesiologist, Ashley Risso, a perfusionist (whose job it is to run the heart-lung machine), Ruiza Coronelm a registered nurse. And among them was also another traveling nurse who is not currently working at UCSF.
It’s widely known that men heavily dominate the field of surgery. Women are currently underrepresented in almost all cardiac surgery professions– from surgeons to anesthesiologists to trainees. According to Fiedler, there is currently only one woman heart transplant surgeon at UCSF.
“To be in a position at an institution where we have a woman cardiac surgery attending, a woman cardiothoracic anesthesiologist, and then a woman cardiac surgery trainee, it’s just really unique to have all of those pieces fall into place,” says Fiedler.
Blake, who has been affiliated with UCSF Health-UCSF Medical Center for about eight years, said she was also quite surprised by the “all-women team” revelation. In awe of the moment, she snapped a selfie and posted it on their social media accounts, generating quite a buzz.
“We all looked around. It was joyful. We celebrated how far we’ve come, but it’s also like, ‘Wow, it took this long for something like this to happen?'” Blake recalls to TODAY.com.
Blake also said she hopes the historic moment empowers women not to be held back by any limitations.
Fiedler happened to be on the call that particular day when the patient, Fatou Gaye, walked into UCSF. So, while the world applauds the moment and refers to it as historical, the team explains it was merely based on luck. “It’s effectively random,” says Fiedler. “You roll the dice, and if there’s a case, then that’s what you do.”