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This article was published in The American Surgeon Volume 80, Issue 11, November 2014, Pages 1087-1088.

The published version is available at PMID: 25347497. Copyright © Ingenta


The early 20th century saw an explosion in surgical expertise. Specialties dedicated to delicate organs such as the heart and vulnerable populations, like children, were in their infancy. Dr. William E. Ladd, the father of pediatric surgery, founded the first dedicated department of pediatric surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital in 1910. At the time, attempts at cardiac surgery almost universally ended in death of the patient. The first successful surgical treatment of the cardiac valves would not occur for another 15 years, and the great vessels would remain out of reach for decades more. Dr. Robert E. Gross, the shy and humble heir to the greats of this epoch, would push these embryonic fields into the modern era and train a generation of surgeons to face countless new challenges (Fig. 1).