eISSN: 1897-4252
ISSN: 1731-5530
Kardiochirurgia i Torakochirurgia Polska/Polish Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
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vol. 17
In memoriam

William Imon Norwood, 1941–2020

Janusz H. Skalski

Kardiochirur Torakochir Pol 2020; 17 (4): 214-216
Online publish date: 2021/01/15
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With deep regret and sorrow we are bidding farewell to a great human being: the world-renowned pediatric cardiac surgeon, William Imon Norwood, an academic and an ingenious master of surgery of the heart. Words of farewell are offered by us, cardiac surgeons from Krakow and the whole of Poland together with pediatric cardiac surgeons from all corners of the world. Everywhere where pediatric cardiac surgeons are active, on all continents, everywhere where physicians care for newborns with severe cardiac defects, the name of this great virtuoso of surgical techniques is well known and uttered with awe and respect. His output and innovative solutions have distinctly and permanently affected the development of cardiac surgery. The Norwood procedure he devised is quintessential among his lifetime achievements, being an accomplishment resulting from several decades of development. Today the procedure is an indicator of the mode of functioning of a cardiac surgical centre, thus placing high demands on medical teams.
Professor Norwood graduated from public school in Los Alamos in 1959; there his father, a scientist, William Norwood Senior, was employed and worked on the Manhattan Project. Having completed his high school education, William I. Norwood commenced schooling in the Air Force Academy. However, 2 years later, he dropped out of school. In the years 1960–1966, he studied medicine at the University of Colorado. In the period 1967/1968, he was a surgical resident in the university centre in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a place that was famous for pioneering achievements in the early years of world cardiac surgery. Somewhat earlier, in the 1950s, it was there that ground-breaking operations employing cross-circulation were performed, and history was made by Richard Varco and C. Walton Lillehei.
Having completed his residency in general surgery, Professor Norwood continued his education in managing acquired and congenital heart defects in Harvard University teaching hospitals – in the famous Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston and in Boston Children’s Hospital, where he completed his residency as the chief resident in 1976 and his supervisor was Professor Aldo Castańeda. In the years 1976–1983, he was employed by Boston Children’s Hospital as a member of Professor Castańeda’s team and a member of the Medical Faculty of Harvard University. It was then that he became interested in the most severe congenital heart defects in...

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