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To the Editor:
Domingo Liotta's monumental accomplishments began over 40 years ago when he designed, built, and implanted the first mechanical hearts in patients. These efforts are well known to most physicians, but less so to the public. I have had the honor of knowing and working with Dr. Liotta and Dr. Denton Cooley since those first days of hope and uncertainty at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston. Dr. Liotta always impressed us with his capacity for work, his courage, and his dedication to the needs of patients and society.
Now Dr. Liotta has recorded much of his past in Amazing Adventures of a Heart Surgeon (New York: iUni-verse, Inc.; 2007). Physicians and scientists will no doubt be attracted to the new details he provides on the first mechanical devices and the formidable problems that had to be overcome in the course of their development and application. For example, he provides important new insight and never-before-disclosed information about problems with the use of the first totally mechanical cardiac replacement in a human patient, Haskell Karp.
Yet there is much more in Dr. Liotta's reminiscences that is truly amazing. After returning to his native Argentina, he was appointed personal physician to President Juan Perón and simultaneously was appointed Minister of Public Health. He was assigned the task of opening political relations with China and training Chinese physicians and surgeons in cardiac medicine and surgery, which he did for the next 30 years. He describes monumental meetings with President Perón and Premier Chou En-lai. Later, he opened governmental relations between Argentina and Israel (where my cousins were the chief rabbis of the army and air force).
All of these humane and political acts were accomplished with erudition and a commitment to a philosophy of preserving and improving human life. Indeed, Dr. Liotta describes his lifelong interest in ancient Western and Chinese philosophies and religions—which provides a fascinating backdrop to his dedication and motivation.
This is indeed an amazing book by an amazing surgeon and humanitarian. We are indebted to Dr. Liotta for his wide-ranging accomplishments and now for recording these important events that have shaped the lives of us all.
Letters to the Editor should be no longer than 2 double-spaced typewritten pages and should contain no more than 6 references. They should be signed, with the expectation that the letters will be published if appropriate. The right to edit all correspondence in accordance with Journal style is reserved by the editors.