News | November 12, 2009

Pioneering Cardiologist, Co-Inventor of the Swan-Ganz Catheter Dies

November 12, 2009 – William Ganz, M.D., an internationally-recognized leader and inventor in heart medicine, died Tuesday night of natural causes at the age of 90.

Dr. Ganz’ life spans from his 1919 birth in Kosice, then a small town in Central Europe and his education at the Charles University School of Medicine in Prague to his World War II incarceration in a Nazi labor camp, survival in the Jewish underground in Budapest, and his later daring escape from communism when he and his family emigrated to the United States.

Soon after arriving in Los Angeles with his wife, Magda, and their two sons, Tomas and Peter, in 1966, Dr. Ganz joined the fledgling division of cardiology at Cedars-Sinai.

In 1970, Dr. Ganz and then-Chief of Cardiology H.J.C. Swan, M.D. invented a balloon-tipped catheter to assess heart function in critically ill patients. The following year, Dr. Ganz developed a new method for direct measurement of blood flow in humans. His measurement technique was then incorporated into the Swan-Ganz Catheter. Both the catheter and the Ganz measurement method are today used by physicians worldwide, and are still the gold standards in cardiac medicine.

In 1982, Dr. Ganz collaborated with P.K. Shah, M.D., now director of the cardiology division at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, to conduct the first studies in treating heart attacks by dissolving coronary artery blood clots. Cedars-Sinai became the first medical center in the U.S. to test this therapy in humans. Today, throughout the world, clot-dissolving therapy is the standard treatment for heart attack patients.
“Dr. Ganz was a giant in medicine and in life,” said Dr. Shah, director of the cardiology division at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and the Shapell and Webb Family chair in clinical cardiology. “He changed the lives of millions through his significant contributions to medicine, but he never lost sight of the importance of family and friends. He has left us a rich and enviable legacy.”

In 1992, Dr. Ganz was awarded the Distinguished Scientist Award of the American College of Cardiology.

Memorial services are to be held Thursday at Mount Sinai Memorial Park in Hollywood. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society.

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