Dr. W. Gerald Austen, MGH surgeon and legendary Boston medical chief, dies at 92

As snug as any doctor might be in a number of excessive profile roles, Dr. Austen rose from a rising star within the Boston medical neighborhood in his 30s to change into one of many founders of the System Companions HealthCare and the founding president and CEO of the Massachusetts Basic Physicians Group, a multi-specialty medical group.

Almost 70 years into his residency on the MGH, Dr. Austen died of problems from metastatic melanoma on Sunday on the hospital that was his longtime residence. He was 92 years outdated and had lived in Boston.

In a joint assertion, Dr. David FM Brown, President of the MGH, and Dr. Marcela del Carmen, President of the Massachusetts Basic Physicians Group, praised Dr. Austen’s “super contributions to the sector of cardiac surgical procedure, his unwavering dedication to bettering the well being and well-being of his sufferers, his unwavering dedication to coaching and supporting the subsequent technology of clinicians, and his deep help and love for each MGHer.

On his technique to turning into one of the vital physicians within the hospital’s historical past, Dr. Austen was at 36, the second-youngest college member to change into a full professor at Harvard Medical Faculty. At 39, he was appointed Chief of Surgical procedure on the MGH.

A previous president of the American Coronary heart Affiliation, he was a life member of the Company of the Massachusetts Institute of Know-how, the place he skilled as an engineer.

A prolific researcher with a protracted summary of scientific papers, books and ebook chapters, he pioneered surgical methods and performed a key position within the design and creation of a heart-cardiopulmonary bypass system. lung and intra-aortic balloon pump.

In these actions, his bachelor’s diploma from MIT proved helpful.

“My engineering subject was fluid mechanics, and what might be higher, it turned out,” he instructed The Globe. “Fluid mechanics is fluid stream by way of pipes, and cardiovascular surgical procedure can be fluid stream by way of pipes and pumps.”

Amongst Dr. Austen’s numerous sufferers, some have made headlines: Henry Kissinger, the previous US Secretary of State; tv information anchor David Brinkley; and actors John Wayne and Kirk Douglas.

“Do not give the impression that Jerry Austen is a star physician. He is only a fabulous physician to everybody in his care,” Brinkley instructed the Globe in 1983, including that of his personal private medical doctors, “I am completely dedicated to him.

The youngest of 4 siblings, William Gerald Austen, identified to all as Jerry, was born in Akron, Ohio on January 20, 1930.

He was the son of Bertha Jehle Arnstein and Karl Arnsteina outstanding engineer born in Czechoslovakia who was accountable for engineering for Goodyear Aerospace Corp.

Throughout World Struggle II, the Arnsteins’ daughters instructed that their youthful brothers would profit from having a extra American-sounding title. Bertha beloved Jane Austen novels, so Jerry and her older brother, Frank, grew to become Austens.

Dr. Austen graduated from the Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio, and headed to MIT, desiring to comply with his father into engineering.

After graduating in 1951, nevertheless, he turned to drugs as an alternative, staying for a time at Harvard Medical Faculty along with his brother, Dr. K.Frank Austen of Wellesley, who grew to become professor of respiratory and inflammatory ailments on the faculty and extremely honored doctor and researcher at Brigham and Ladies’s Hospital.

After finishing his residency on the MGH, as an alternative of navy service, Dr. Jerry Austen spent two years conducting analysis at what was then the Nationwide Coronary heart Institute in Bethesda, Maryland.

Then he returned to remain in Mass. Basic, the place he met Patricia Ramsdell, a nurse. They married in 1961 and had 4 youngsters. He credited her help with enabling him to pursue an lively and eventful profession.

“I’ve an exquisite spouse who understands me and what I must do,” he instructed the Globe in 1969, when he grew to become chief of surgical procedure on the MGH, “and that helps make that attainable”.

Their son Christopher, from Harmony, mentioned “his magic was his nice consciousness of individuals: their strengths, their weaknesses and their motivations. He was an awesome listener and folks knew he cared deeply about them.

Dr. Austen “instilled his worth system in all of his youngsters: the significance of arduous work, concern for others, valuing respect over cash, integrity, and utilizing all of these issues to assist others,” mentioned his son Karl, an leisure legal professional who lives in Westwood, Calif.

“He was at all times very supportive, gave wonderful recommendation and made us snort,” added Dr. Austen’s daughter, Dr. Elizabeth AustenLawson of Chestnut Hill, MGH doctor and researcher who teaches at Harvard Medical Faculty.

Dr. Austen was the eminent Edward D. Churchill professor of surgical procedure at Harvard Medical Faculty, who established a chair of surgical procedure in his title.

Honored by MIT and MGH for his providers as a trustee of every establishment, he has additionally served as a member, fellow, or officer of organizations such because the Institute of Medication of the Nationwide Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences , the American School of Surgeons and the American Surgical Affiliation.

As a nod to his upbringing in northeast Ohio, Dr. Austen additionally served for a few years, together with as chairman, on the board of the Knight Basis, which was began by John S. and James L. Knight of the Knight Ridder chain of newspapers.

“There was no dialog with him that I did not come out of higher,” mentioned Alberto Ibargüen, president of the muse, in a tribute to the organization website. “He would hear fastidiously after which say to me and others, ‘We’re on the identical web page. I simply have a couple of questions”, then I proceed to enhance on what has simply been offered to him.

Along with his spouse, Patty, their youngsters Karl, Christopher and Elizabeth, and his brother, Frank, Dr. Austen leaves one other son, Dr. Jay Austen from Beacon Hill, chief of plastic, reconstructive and burns surgical procedure on the MGH; and 10 grandchildren.

The household will maintain a personal service and a celebration of his life will probably be introduced.

“Dr. Austen was crucial doctor on the MGH within the second half of the twentieth century,” mentioned Dr. Roman DeSanctis, director emeritus of scientific cardiology on the MGH. hospital publication when his colleague was honored years in the past.

“He was additionally an exquisite physician, beloved by his sufferers,” mentioned DeSanctis, who had labored with Dr. Austen to avoid wasting Kissinger’s life in 1982. “In his dedication to MGH, Harvard, instructing, analysis, administration, affected person care, and growth, I do know of nobody equal to Dr. Austen within the half century that I’ve been right here.


Bryan Marquard might be reached at bryan.marquard@globe.com.

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