All-Women Team Makes Medical History

Photo by Piron Guillaume on Unsplash

( – In December, as Dr. Amy Fiedler was finishing up a standard heart transplant surgery, she noticed that all the people surrounding her in the intensive care unit were women. As she noted that the perfusionist (who is in charge of the heart-lung machine), the nursing staff, and all the patients were female.

Fiedler, a cardiothoracic surgeon at the University of California, San Francisco, proceeded to ask Dr. Charlene Blake, a cardiac anesthesiologist, whether this had occurred ever before.

As Blake recalled, she remembered looking around and being joyful. She added that they celebrated the occurrence, but were also surprised by how long it had taken for this to occur.

Fiedler proceeded to explain that women are underrepresented in the specializations relating to cardiac surgery. This includes surgeons, anesthesiologists, and even trainees. In fact, Fiedler is the only woman heart transplant surgeon at UCSF right now. She added that this was why it was so unique to have “a woman cardiothoracic anesthesiologist and then a woman cardiac surgery trainee.”

Blake proceeded to snap a selfie of the moment and even went ahead and posted it on social media. Fiedler joked that Blake was the right person to take the photo because of her “long arms.”

UCSF is not new to milestones for women. As Fiedler recalled, a previous chair of the department of surgery at UCSF, Dr. Nancy Ascher, was the first woman to perform a liver transplant.

The team has maintained that while this moment was historic it was also completely coincidental.

Copyright 2023,

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