O. H. Frazier

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Oscar Howard Frazier Jr.
Born 1940
Stephenville, TX
Nationality  United States
Education B.A. in History from the University of Texas at Austin in 1963; M.D. from Baylor College of Medicine in 1967
Known for Performed more than 1,300 heart transplants, first U.S. human implantation of the HeartMate II pump, first human implantation of the Jarvik 2000, first successful human implantation of a continuous flow total artificial heart (TAH).
Medical career
Profession Surgeon, specialty: Cardiovascular surgery, heart transplantation, mechanical assist device including total artificial heart.
Institutions Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

O.H. "Bud" Frazier, M.D. is Chief of Cardiopulmonary Transplantation, Program Director and Chief of the Center for Cardiac Support, and Director of Cardiovascular Surgery Research at the Texas Heart Institute. He is Chief of the Transplant Service at Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center (part of the Catholic Health Initiatives system) in Houston.

Academic appointments[edit]


Frazier is a pioneer in the surgical treatment of severe heart failure, specifically in the fields of heart transplantation and mechanical circulatory support to be used either to substitute for or to assist the pumping action of the human heart. As a result of his work, Texas Heart Institute is one of the top transplantation and mechanical circulatory support programs in the world. Dr. Frazier has performed over 1,300 heart transplants and implanted 1000 left ventricular assist devices (LVADs), more than any other surgeon in the world.


Frazier graduated from the University of Texas-Austin and received his medical degree at Baylor College of Medicine, where he received the DeBakey Award for Outstanding Surgical Student. Frazier served in the United States Army from 1968 to 1970 and distinguished himself as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Army 48th Assault Helicopter Company in Vietnam.

Specialty training and residency[edit]

After his military service, he completed his specialty training in general surgery under Dr. Michael E. DeBakey at Baylor Affiliated Hospitals and a residency in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery under Dr. Denton A. Cooley at the Texas Heart Institute.

Areas of clinical interest[edit]

Left Ventricular Assist Devices (LVAD) Frazier's interest in mechanical circulatory support began in 1969, when, as/ a student at Baylor College of Medicine, he wrote a research paper about the experimental total artificial heart, which was first implanted in 1969 by Dr. Denton Cooley. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Frazier continued experimental work toward development of the implantable HeartMate I left ventricular assist device (LVAD).

In 1986, he performed the first implant of one of these devices in a human; this device has become the most widely used implantable LVAD in the world. Frazier's seminal work in the field of left ventricular assist devices continued with experimental studies that resulted in the first intravascular, implantable continuous flow pump (Hemopump), which he first implanted in a human in April 1988. In 1991, one of Frazier's patients was the first to be discharged home with an implantable, non-tethered LVAD.

After more than 10 years of research, in 2000, he performed the first human implant of the Jarvik 2000 LVAD, also a continuous flow pump. In November 2003, he implanted the first HeartMate II LVAD in a patient; the HeartMate II is based on a similar principle to that of the Hemopump.

Other Milestones/Advances by Dr. O.H. Frazier include:

  • 1976 World’s first intra-abdominal left ventricular assist device (with Dr. Jack Norman)
  • 1978 World’s first bridge to transplant with LVAD (with Dr. Denton Cooley)
  • 1978 World’s first heart-kidney transplant (with Drs Denton Cooley and Dr. Barry Kahan)
  • 1985 Proposed to NHLBI and subsequent funding by NHLBI for the development of a permanent artificial heart (Dr. Frazier)
  • 1986 World’s first implantation of pneumatic TCI LVAD (first LVAD approved by FDA) (Dr. Frazier)
  • 1988 First implantation of intracorporeal continuous flow (pulseless) LVAD (Hemopump)(Frazier)
  • 1986-90 Development with Dr. Robert Jarvik of implantable blood-washed (non-lubricated) bearing for long term continuous flow implantable pump. Basis for development of entire field of continuous flow pumps (over 30,000 implanted worldwide). (with Dr. Robert Jarvik)
  • 1991 Implantation of world’s first electrically powered LVAD (also TCI) (Dr. Frazier)
  • 1991 First patient to be discharged from hospital with LVAD (Dr. Frazier’s SLEH patient)
  • 2000 Implantation of first Jarvik pump as a bridge to transplant (Dr. Frazier)
  • 2001 Implantation of Abiocor artificial heart (with Dr. Igor Gregoric)
  • 2000 Implantation of world’s first destination therapy continuous flow pump (Jarvik with Dr. Stephen Westaby, Oxford, England)
  • 2003 First implantation of Heartmate II (developed in Texas Heart Institute research lab); now the most widely used device (Dr. Frazier)
  • 2003 First device approved as bridge to transplant and then destination therapy (Dr. Frazier)
  • 1994 First centrifugal support LVAD, now known as the Heartware (Dr. Frazier)
  • 2005 Demonstration of feasibility of (experimental animal) of total heart replacement with continuous flow pump (Dr. Frazier)
  • 2006 Six million dollar NIH grant for development of implantable continuous flow pump for total heart replacement (Frazier/Principal Investigator)
  • 2011 First implantation of total heart replacement with 2 continuous flow pumps in a patient (with Dr. William Cohn)

Total Artificial Heart (TAH) In 1985, during his tenure on the Advisory Board of NHLBI, Frazier recommended that research be initiated on a total artificial heart (TAH) that would be fully implantable and that would allow patients to be discharged and to live a normal lifestyle. The program was recommended for funding, and, subsequently, in the early 1990s, Frazier became involved in the animal experiments that led to the first implantation of the AbioCor total artificial heart (TAH) in 2001.

On March 10, 2011, Dr. Frazier and Dr. William Cohn removed the heart of a 55–year-old and replaced it with two customized HeartMate II LVADs, a research endeavor initiated at the Texas Heart Institute over the previous 5 years. The patient had developed a rare condition called cardiac amyloidosis, a disease in which the heart is infiltrated by an abnormal protein produced elsewhere in the body. Patients with this affliction are not candidates for heart transplantation due to the likelihood of recurrence in the transplanted heart. Following the procedure the patient awoke neurologically intact and able to communicate with family and caregivers and was even able to work on his computer in his hospital bed. Tragically, the disease process that had destroyed his heart continued to attack his liver and kidneys. After five weeks the patient expired following withdrawal of support. Frazier and Cohn had proven the feasibility of a completely implantable continuous-flow total artificial heart, a feat that garnered worldwide attention producing journal articles on the front of Popular Science and National Geographic. In 2012, in large part due to a generous $2.1 million research donation from well-known Houston businessman, Jim McInvale, Dr. Frazier and Dr. Cohn persuaded gifted engineer, Dr. Daniel Timms, and his team to relocate from Australia and Germany to the Texas Heart Institute in Houston to work on their BiVACOR total artificial heart device, one that could be the future of a successful total heart replacement in the not-too-distant future. As of 2015, these research efforts are ongoing. Dr. Frazier, Dr. Cohn, Dr. Timms and their team are excited about the future of research that continues at the Texas Heart Institute.

Successful implantation[edit]

In March 2011 Dr. Frazier and Dr. Cohn successfully transplanted the first continuous-flow artificial heart device into a patient, Craig Lewis, 55, using two customized HeartMate II LVADs. This patient thus became the first person to be alive without a heartbeat or a pulse. The device had previously been tested on many cows.[4]

Awards and honors[edit]

For his military service Frazier received the Combat Flight Medal, the Vietnamese Navy Medal, and the Vietnamese Distinguished Service Medal.

Medical honors include the Living Legend Award from the World Society of Cardiothoracic Surgeons, Baylor College of Medicine Distinguished Alumnus Award, University of Texas Distinguished Alumnus Award, the Gift to Mankind Award from the American Organ Transplant Association, the Distinguished Surgeon Award from the Houston Surgical Society, Honored Physician Award from the American Heart Association Guild, the Ray C. Fish Award for Scientific Achievement from the Texas Heart Institute and, most recently, the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society International Recognition Award. In 2014, Dr. Frazier was presented with the Lifetime Achievement & Distinguished Faculty Award from the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Frazier's award presentation preceded keynote speaker, former Vice President Dick Cheney, whose life was saved by the technology Dr. Frazier helped develop.


Frazier has served on the editorial boards of several medical journals, including Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, and The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation.

He has authored or co-authored more than 1000 scientific publications, presented over 800 lectures around the world on the field of cardiovascular medicine, cardiopulmonary transplantation, and mechanical circulatory support.[citation needed]

He is a former chairman of the Federal Affairs Committee for the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs and has served on other prominent national committees, including the Education Committee of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons and the Advisory Board of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Dr. Frazier has served as President of the Denton A. Cooley Surgical Society and the American Society of Artificial Internal Organs.


External links[edit]