Muhammad Anwer, MD, is a cardiac surgeon who cares for patients with advanced heart failure. He provides left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation and has been involved in more than 200 heart transplants, in addition to performing all other types of heart surgery.
Dr. Anwer also is one of just a handful of surgeons in the world who performs DCD (donation after cardiac death) heart transplantation. While the vast majority of hearts donated for transplantation are retrieved as “donation after brain death,” Yale and other institutions are exploring DCD as a way to expand the number of available donor organs and provide more lifesaving opportunities for patients who might never receive one otherwise.
“When I was growing up, I saw lots of people in my family suffer from heart disease,” Dr. Anwer says. “They would have heart attacks and, if they survived, they would deal with extremely poor quality of life with heart failure. I wanted to help people with this disease. I am lucky that we now have so many new tools that we can use, and that I practice in a tertiary care center where we get patients from all over who have exhausted their options elsewhere. It really is a true honor.”
“Patients with advanced heart failure are among the sickest patients in the hospital, and surgical therapies change their lives more dramatically than almost any other intervention in medicine,” Dr. Anwer says. “Patients are literally on the edge of life and death. We place a new heart into them, and they can walk out of the hospital in two to three weeks with a normal heart. Then they get back to giving a full life with their loved ones. It is really one of the most magical things in all of medicine.”
In addition to his work as a clinician, Dr. Anwer participates in research at Yale in such areas as the donor heart allocation system and how patients can best benefit from left ventricular assist devices. “Our work is being used to guide centers all over the world,” he says.