November 16, 2019 marks the 24th anniversary of the death of cardiothoracic surgeon and researcher Professor Douglas Baird AM. He would have been 79 years old.
Professor Baird was dedicated not just to improving patients’ survival rates and lives post-surgery; but to providing much needed support for other surgeons and education for students. His work has benefited countless families and individuals who, due to his efforts, have lived to tell the tale.
Professor Baird believed firmly that surgical outcomes need to be continually measured and improved. He was instrumental in creating the first national cardiac surgical database, with the National Heart Foundation. This database allows lessons from past surgeries to be implemented into current and future technologies. Though this may seem logical, it was previously unheard of at the time.
Professor Baird also pioneered the, formerly rare, combination of research and surgery; bridging the gap between academic innovation and applied cardiothoracic surgical techniques.
Many of Professor Baird’s encounters with patients in the operating room went on to become lifelong friendships.
In Baird’s obituary, the Hon Michael Kirby (who is now The Baird Institute patron) said:
“I will never forget how, in the middle of the long operation [on Kirby’s mother], he came out to reassure my father and me that all was going well. He was a gentle surgeon. He never lost interest in his patients. He understood their anxieties and the fears of their families. What a model he was for the best of medical practice that our country can produce…”
The Baird Institute for Applied Heart and Lung Surgical Research was started in Douglas Baird’s honour by his protege and friend Professor Paul Bannon; and his team in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
“Those of us who worked with him on a daily basis knew we were in the presence of greatness, yet he made us feel that our ideas were worth listening to,” said Professor Bannon.
“We used to call him the chairman of everything,” he laughs.
“He seemed to recognise people’s skill sets and he had this overwhelming sense of responsibility for every person who came through the hospital doors.”
Professor Baird died at just 55 of Cholangiocarcinoma, a cancer of the bile ducts.
Now, on the anniversary of his death, in order to honour and continue his life’s work; the Baird Institute is launching it’s Workplace Giving Program and Christmas Appeal. It is vital work.
Heart Disease is the number one cause of death among Australians; it kills roughly 48 people per day. The lung cancer statistics are not much more cheerful.
The Baird Institute continues Professor Douglas Baird’s life-saving work and research, driving medical breakthroughs in heart and lung surgery.
The Baird Institute does not receive any government funding and relies solely on the generosity of the public and those who have benefited from its work.
We would be more than grateful for any assistance or publicity for the Christmas Appeal and Workplace Giving Program.
Because every heartbeat matters, every breath counts and every dollar helps.