Memorial mass for former Loyola University Hospital cardiothoracic surgeon

A memorial Mass will be said on Friday, Nov. 12 for former Loyola University Hospital cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Roque Pifarré, who performed the first heart transplant in Illinois.

“Dr. Pifarré had a profound impact on Loyola’s heart program and he will be greatly missed,” said Dr. Paul Whelton, president and CEO of Loyola University Health System.

Under Dr. Pifarré’s leadership, more than 25,000 cardiac procedures were performed at Loyola. Dr. Pifarré established the heart transplant program and performed Illinois’ first heart transplant in 1984. He also performed the state’s first heart-lung transplant in 1986 and first placement of a Jarvik-7 artificial heart in 1988.

“He was not afraid to try new things or new approaches to help his patients,” said Dr. Mamdouh Bakhos, chairman of the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery at Loyola. “Dr. Pifarré had confidence in his ability, and with good reason. He was one of the most accomplished surgeons I have known.”

Another colleague, retired cardiologist Dr. Rolf Gunnar, said, “It always was a delight to send patients who needed surgery to Dr. Pifarré, because I was confident the outcome would be successful.”

Dr. Gunnar, who was chairman of the Department of Medicine at Loyola, said Dr. Pifarré also was a great teacher. “He taught by example, and trained many wonderful surgeons, including my son,” Dr. Gunnar said.

Dr. Pifarré died June 21 in Barcelona, Spain. He was 80.

Dr. Pifarré was born Aug. 20, 1929 in Lleida, Spain. His interest in biological sciences began in high school. He earned his medical degree from Barcelona University Medical School in 1953. Dr. Pifarré completed his internship at St. Mary’s Hospital in Hoboken, N.J., and his residency in general surgery at Prince George’s General Hospital in Cheverly, Md.

Dr. Pifarré completed a fellowship in cardiovascular surgery at Georgetown University and earned a MSc degree from McGill University in Montreal. Dr. Pifarré had an appointment in surgery at Georgetown before joining Loyola as chief of the section of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery in 1969. Under Dr. Pifarré’s leadership, the section became the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.

In 1978, Dr. Pifarré received the Civil Merit Award from King Juan Carlos of Spain for outstanding contributions to the field of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery. In 1982, Dr. Pifarré received the Stritch School of Medicine’s highest honor, the Stritch Medal.

In 1983, Dr. Pifarré was listed as one of Chicago magazine’s Top 40 Doctors. In 1995, he was the first to be named the George M. Eisenberg Professor of Cardiovascular Sciences at Loyola. He was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and Canada’s Royal College of Surgeons. He retired from Loyola in 1996.

The many honors Dr. Pifarré received never went to his head. “He was a humble, down-to-earth guy,” Dr. Bakhos said. “He was very nice and very gentle, and his patients loved him.”

Dr. Pifarré is survived by his wife, Teresa; one brother, Pere and one sister, Joana.
A memorial mass for Dr. Pifarré will be offered at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12th, in the Paul Galvin Chapel in Loyola University Hospital, 2160 S. First Ave., Maywood.

Source: Loyola University Health System

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