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The Henry Swan Papers

[Program for the First Annual Henry Swan Visiting Professorship in Surgery (University of Colorado Health Sciences Center)] pdf (1,435,540 Bytes) transcript of pdf
[Program for the First Annual Henry Swan Visiting Professorship in Surgery (University of Colorado Health Sciences Center)]
Number of Image Pages:
2 (1,435,540 Bytes)
1982-05-20 (May 20, 1982)
University of Colorado. Health Sciences Center
Reproduced with permission of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Dean's Office.
Exhibit Category:
Learning from the Lungfish: Studies of Hiberation, 1963-1988
Box Number: 1
Folder Number: 11
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Programs (documents)
Physical Condition:
Series: Personal and Biographical, 1936-1995
Folder: First Annual Henry Swan II Visiting Professorship in Surgery [photographs], 1982
First Annual Henry Swan Visiting Professorship in Surgery
May 20, 1982
H. William Scott Jr., M.D.
Visiting Professor
University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
[PHOTO=Portrait of Henry Swan, II, M.D.]
Henry Swan, II, M.D.
Henry Swan was born in Denver on May 27, 1913. After graduating cum laude from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1931, he entered Williams College where he continued his outstanding academic record (magna cum laude) while finding time to be captain of the Tennis Team and lettering in other varsity sports.
Henry entered Harvard Medical School in the elite class of 1939 which spawned six professors and chairmen of surgery, and innumerable professors in other specialties. Henry was a Junior A.O.A. and valedictorian in this famous class.
After a Pathology Residency at Colorado General Hospital (1939-40), Dr. Swan took a Surgical Residency at the Boston Children's Hospital and the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in 1942-43. Predictably he then joined the Army in World War II and quickly became Chief of a surgical team in the 5th Surgical Group in the European Theater. He came home to Denver with Major leafs on his shoulders, a room full of souvenirs, a wealth of surgical experience, and a lot of good stories.
Dr. Swan started as Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Colorado in 1946. Dr. Jack Foster was Chairman of Surgery at the time and clearly groomed Henry for this job. Despite Dr. Swan's official surgical residency of only two years, he was clearly ready to take over the top job and did so on July 1, 1950. He was the first full-time Surgical Chairman at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
The eleven years that Henry Swan was Chairman of Surgery in Denver were unexcelled for excitement, growth and fun. His remarkable interest, imagination, research productivity, clinical and technical abilities, and his role as a teacher attracted talent at Faculty and Resident levels from throughout the United States. He personified charisma. He took a sleepy, almost unknown Surgical Department and within a few years made it a world renowned center.
This was the golden period of development of cardiac surgery, and Henry Swan and his team were in the forefront of this exciting process. He was the first to recognize the possibilities for using hypothermia to prolong time for operating within the heart. This occurred before the era of the pump oxygenator, and only someone with Henry's skills and boldness could have pioneered this technique. The defects had to be corrected within 6-7 minutes of cardiotomy. He was the first to perform open operations on the aortic and pulmonary valves, and pioneered the way to repair atrial septal defects. He published more than 250 papers during this period. His remarkable achievements have brought him honors from virtually every surgical society in this country. He was given an honorary D.Sc from Williams in 1959. Dr. Swan retired as Chairman in 1961 and has since continued an active investigative career. In 1974 he published a book on Thermoregulation and Bioenergetics.
Such a barebone account, however distinguished, cannot catch the inimitable flavor of Henry Swan's personality. His interests are all encompassing. An avid sportsman, he could always outshoot, outcast, outhunt, and (in his own mind) outski any and all comers. He flew his private plane through North and South America to the terror of his passengers and colleagues. His enthusiasm swept ordinary caution aside.
The Swan children, Edith, Henry, Helen, and Gretchen have so far given Henry four grandchildren.
Henry Swan, more than any single figure, built the Department of Surgery at the University of Colorado.
The annual Visiting Professorship has been established by Dr. Swan's many surgical pupils as lasting evidence of their thanks to him for the spark he added to so many careers.
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