Iván González Cancel

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Ivan F. Gonzalez Cancel
Secretary of Health of Puerto Rico
In office
Personal details
Born Utuado, Puerto Rico
Political party Democratic Party
New Progressive Party
Profession Physician
Religion Roman Catholicism[citation needed]
Website www.gonzalezcancel.com

Ivan F. Gonzalez Cancel is a cardiovascular and heart transplant surgeon credited for having performed the first heart transplant surgery in Puerto Rico.[1]

Early life[edit]

He was born in 1960 in municipality of Utuado, Puerto Rico. He lived in Utuado, PR until the age of 10, when the Gonzalez Cancel family decides to move to Bayamon, PR. It is in Bayamon were the young Ivan Gonzalez Cancel studies fifth and sixth grade. In 1970 his family had again to relocalize, this time to the community of Levittown in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. He conducted all his elementary, and high school studies in the Public School System of Puerto Rico.


In 1977 he is admitted to the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. He excels as an undergraduate student and in 1980 enrolls in the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine. During his medical studies he decides to become a Surgeon and in 1989 he joins the Puerto Rico Medical Center Surgery Residency Program. After being told that at that time becoming a Cardiovascular Surgeon was impossible and that he should forget about it; in 1989 he joins the Cardiovascular Surgery faculty at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. After completing his training in Cardiovascular Surgery he decides to pursue a fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh in Heart and Lung Transplant.

Return to Puerto Rico and the First Heart Transplant in Puerto Rico[edit]

In 1993 after completing his training in mainland United States he returned to Puerto Rico to practice as a Cardiovascular and Heart Transplant Surgeon. It is in 1999 when he makes history by conducting the first heart transplant surgery in Puerto Rico. In June 27, 1999, Dr.Ivan Gonzalez Cancel along with a group of healthcare professionals performed the surgery which took 3 hours and 17 minutes at the Cardiovascular Center of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. Among the group of physicians that participated in the successful surgery were: Dr. Héctor Banchs Pieretti, Dr. Cid Quintana, Dr. Rolando Colón, Dr. Héctor Delgado Osorio and Dr. Efraín Defendini.

Mr. Laureano Cora Solis, 52 years old and resident of Arroyo, PR was the patient to receive the transplanted organ donated by the family of Arlyne Odette Acevedo Molina—who was a lady from Hatillo, Puerto Rico, victim of a fatal car accident.


Since then, Dr.Gonzalez-Cancel and his team have conducted a total of 125 heart transplants in Puerto Rico. Due to the success rate of these surgeries, and the outcome of his patients, Dr. Gonzalez Cancel achieved the status of a prominent surgeon in Puerto Rico and the United States.[2]

Political career[edit]

Dr. Ivan Gonzalez Cancel is regarded as a prominent Democrat and Statehood supporter. He has met President Bill Clinton and many mainland politicians. He has made financial contributions to the NPP party in Puerto Rico and to Democrats in the United States.[3]

Secretary of Health of Puerto Rico[edit]

By 2009, Dr.Gonzalez Cancel was arguably among the most respected and prominent physicians in Puerto Rico. Due to his professional background and experience he was nominated by Governor Luis Fortuno as Secretary of Health of Puerto Rico.

Tapped as secretary of Health in 2009, he ran into trouble when Fortuño withdrew his nomination. “I refused to participate in a proposed scheme tainted by corruption, and I didn’t want to give up surgery completely so he pounced on the excuse to withdraw my nomination,” said González Cancel, who said he would give up all his medical positions if he were to become governor. In fact, the short stint at the Health Department probably sparked his interest in public service and launched him on his path to the governorship.[4]

Campaign for Governor of Puerto Rico 2012[edit]

Nothing is more anti-statehood than corruption, says the man who aspires to challenge Gov. Fortuño for La Fortaleza, on a platform which overturns almost every assumption his own party has promoted. “This administration doesn’t show any interest in finding out about corruption, which destroys every effort to improve the life of Puerto Ricans,” cardiologist Dr. Iván González Cancel told the Daily Sun in an interview Saturday, the same day he opened his 2012 primary campaign office.

NPP Primary[edit]

The subject of corruption is not a plank in his platform, but rather a shadow that hovers over every reform and project, according to González Cancel, who must get 10,000 endorsement signatures before challenging the incumbent governor to an inter-party primary race in March. The signature campaign must wait until Oct. 1, when he officially presents his candidacy as a candidate for governor for the New Progressive Party. “I expect to do that in one or two weeks, and when that obstacle is surmounted, we will begin developing a campaign strategy for the primaries,” said the Utuado native. So far, the road has appeared rocky, as he meets criticism and obstacles at every turn, engineered by his potential opponent, Fortuño, and the NPP machine. The avid statehood supporter can’t see why Fortuño is “offended by being challenged, given that [his election] came from having made a primary fight against former NPP Gov. Pedro Rosselló.”[5]


  1. ^ "Lo que debes saber sobre tu salud"; By Mario R. Garcia Palmieri; pg. 100; Published by Editorial UPR, 2000; ISBN 0-8477-0107-7, ISBN 978-0-8477-0107-0, Retrieved October 18, 2008
  2. ^ Dr. Ivan Gonzalez Cancel cited by the Wall Street Journal , http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703752404576178570674769318.html, Retrieved July 26, 2011
  3. ^ Ivan Gonzalez Cancel Contributions, http://www.primerahora.com/ivangonzalezcancelaseguraqueestaafiliadoalpnp-530577.html, Retrieved August 2, 2011
  4. ^ Puerto Rico Daily Sun, http://www.prdailysun.com/index.php?page=news.article&id=1312163959, Retrieved August 2, 2011
  5. ^ NPP Primary 2012, http://www.prdailysun.com/index.php?page=news.article&id=1312163959, Retrieved August 2, 2011

External links[edit]

Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Jaime Rivera Dueno
Health Secretary of Puerto Rico
Succeeded by
Lorenzo Gonzalez