Domingo Liotta

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Domingo Liotta
Domingo Liotta.jpg
Liotta in 2007
Born (1924-11-29) November 29, 1924 (age 94)
Alma materNational University of Córdoba

Domingo Santo Liotta (born November 29, 1924) is a pioneer of heart surgery, creator of multiple cardiac prostheses including the first total artificial heart used in a human being.

Early life[edit]

Domingo Santo Liotta son of Italian immigrants, was born in the city of Diamante, Entre Rios, Argentina on November 29, 1924. He completed his elementary school at his hometown at "Independencia School", and his high school at the "Justo Jose de Urquiza School" in Concepcion del Uruguay, Entre Rios.

Medical education highlights[edit]

In 1949, he graduated as a Medical Doctor at National University of Córdoba (Argentina). He received a doctorate in Medicine and Surgery in 1953. In 1955, he developed a technique for early diagnosis of tumors in the pancreas and ampulla of Vater (Pour le diagnostic des tumeurs du pancreas: La duodenographie hypotonique. Lyon Chirurgical, 1955). Liotta continued his medical career at the University of Lyon (France) at the "Pierre Mallet-Guy's" General Surgery Service. Then, he trained in thoracic and cardiac surgery, with Professors Paul Santy and Pierre Marion in Lyon France. His early works in the artificial heart are from 1958 in Córdoba, Argentina, where he developed an early prototype successfully used in small animals. After publishing the results of his studies, Dr. Liotta was hired at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston Texas as Director of the Artificial Heart Program by Dr. Michael E. DeBakey in 1961.

Selected chronology of the 1960s[edit]

1961(December): First conception of the prolonged mechanical assist circulation in the treatment of Cardiogenic Shock Postcardiotomy.

1963 (July 19): Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) in a patient in cardiogenic shock postcardiotomy, Domingo Liotta and E. Stanley Crawford at the Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. First clinical use. The original clinical prototype is displayed at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C..

1966 (April 21): Liotta-DeBakey LVAD implanted in a cardiogenic shock postcardiotomy patient, Methodist Hospital, Houston, Texas. First Clinical use.

1966 (August 8): Liotta-DeBakey LVAD in a paracorporeal position in cardiogenic shock postcardiotomy, Methodist Hospital, Houston, Texas. First successful clinical use.

1969 (April 4): Liotta-Cooley Total Artificial Heart, Texas Heart Institute, Houston, Texas. First clinical use. According to DeBakey, this device was stolen from his lab by Liotta, (even though it was invented by Liotta himself). Dr. Cooley was not involved in any way in its development. According to DeBakey, the device had not been successful in animal experiments, so while the patient had the artificial heart in place, he developed multiple system organ failure, as supposedly the experimental animals had, and died shortly after a heart replaced the device. However, this proved for the first time that human life could be prolonged with such a device.


1962 (May): Prolonged assisted circulation during and after cardiac and aortic surgery. Prolonged partial left ventricular bypass by means of intracorporeal circulation. It was selected as Finalist for the Young Investigators´ Contest Award (Denver) of the American College of Cardiology.

1964: Annual Award, Southwestern Surgical Society, USA. Shared with C. William Hall and Michael E. DeBakey.1968: Golden Eagle Award, Council of International Nontheatrical Events, USA, shared with Denton A. Cooley, Robert Bloodwell, and Grady Hallman.

1969: Award of Merit, American Medical Association shared with Denton A. Cooley, MD.

1969: Decoration of the Institute of Spanish Culture, Madrid, Spain. Shared with Jesús Zerbini (Brazil).

1970: Decoration, Great Cross of Alphonse The Wise (Gran Cruz de Alfonso el Sabio), the highest Spanish civil decoration. Shared with Denton A. Cooley.

1971: Decoration, Order Legion of Merit, Government of the Province of Entre Rios, Argentina.

1973: Professor of Surgery (Honorary), National University of Córdoba, Argentina.

1973: Decoration, Attending Cardiovascular Surgeon of Chinese Hospitals and Consultant of the Ministry of Public Health. Designated by the National State Council of the People's Republic of China. The Council was presided by Premier Chu En-lai.

1974: Decoration, Gran Cavallieri d'Onore for Humanitarian Services, Rome, Italy, the highest Italian civil decoration.

1990: Decoration, Director of the Cardiovascular Center, Guangzhou, China. Honorary Professor, Beijing Friendship Hospital of Capital University of Medical Science, China.

1997: Granted the Organ Replacement Science Award. Assisted Circulation for Chronic Heart Failure, International Society for Artificial Organs (ISAO), U.S.

2005: Decoration, Grand Council Knight of the Sovereign Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem and Rhodes, Cyprus, Rhodes, 5766 (Hebraic Calendar)

2006: Liotta-Cooley artificial heart (1969) displayed prominently at the Treasures of American History exhibit, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.


1961-62: Fellow of Cardiovascular Surgery, Chairman of the Department of Surgery Michael E. DeBakey, Baylor University College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.

1962-64: Advanced Research Fellow of the American Heart Association.

1963-69: Co-Director of the Baylor-Rice Artificial Heart Program shared with Michael E. DeBakey and C. William Hall. Houston, Texas.

1964-71: Assistant Professor of Surgery, Baylor University College of Medicine, Chairman of the Department: Dr. Michael E. DeBakey, Houston, Texas.

1970-71: Director of Surgical Research, Texas Heart Institute, Chief of Cardiovascular Service Denton A. Cooley, Houston, Texas.

1971-74: Surgeon-in-Chief, Carlos Durand Public Hospital, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

1971-90: Surgeon-in-Chief, Service of Cardiovascular Surgery, Italian Hospital of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

1973-74: Secretary of State for Public Health, Argentina. Author of the Law 20748, The National System of Public Health.

1991-94: Surgeon-in-Chief, Cardiovascular Clinic Institute, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

1994-96: Secretary of State for Science and Technology and President of the National Council of Scientific and Technological Research (CONICET), Argentina.

1997–present: Dean of the School of Medicine, University of Morón, Argentina


Member of numerous Medical Societies around the world. Owner of 12 patent inventions in USA, Argentina and France.[1][2] Author of hundreds of scientific publications and scientific books. Author of medical humanism books in English and Spanish.[3]

Recently published his autobiography,"Amazing Adventures of a Heart Surgeon. The Artificial Heart: The Frontiers of Human Life" which provides new insight on Houston on the 60's and the historic operations.

Domingo Liotta has interests and knowledge ranging across a broad spectrum of disciplines beyond medicine and heart surgery, including history, philosophy, ethics, literature as well as socioeconomic and cultural fields. As Secretary of Health he visited China and Israel where he signed with Premier Chou En-lai and President Ephraim Katzir historical agreements. Dr Liotta is still actively working in research and development of new models of heart assist devices, and spending time with his family.


External links[edit]