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Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery

Arizona woman saved by double-lung transplant

Lisa Messina with her husband and daughters

At the age of 34, Lisa Messina was running out of time. Cystic fibrosis had ravaged her lungs, and she found herself in end-stage lung disease, facing an average life expectancy of about 37. Her husband and two daughters were devastated as they watched her succumb to her illness.

Then came a call from the University of Colorado Hospital. A set of donor lungs had become available, paving the way for Lisa's best chance at survival: a double lung transplant. For the rest of the story, watch the video on the CBS-4 website. (A brief advertisement will play before the video.)

(March 2015)

Dr. Weyant leads lung team in Colorado's first
double-lung-and-liver transplant

Dr. Michael Weyant

On March 10, a team of surgeons from our department performed a complex operation on Shaun McCabe, a 30-year-old man from Nebraska who was dying from cystic fibrosis. Shaun received two new lungs and a new liver—the first such operation ever performed in the state of Colorado.

Dr. Michael Weyant headed the lung team for the operation, collaborating with Dr. Kam of the Transplant Division, who led the liver team. Watch the CBS-4 news story on our website.

(March 2015)

Healthy 35-year-old woman gets lifesaving transplant after her heart "explodes"

Becky Pomerleau with her husband Jeremy

Thirty-five-year-old Becky Pomerleau, a healthy athlete, never expected to have a heart attack. But on a ski trip to Breckenridge in the fall of 2014, she felt chest pains and tingling in her arm. Two days later, the symptoms returned, and her husband convinced her to seek treatment.

While Becky was being treated at a Denver-area hospital, the arteries in her heart exploded. She was airlifted to University of Colorado Hospital, where doctors determined that her only hope was to receive a new heart. A machine kept Becky alive for twelve days while she waited on the transplant list. Then she received the ultimate gift from a young woman in Kansas City.

For more of Becky's story, watch the video on the 9 News website.

(February 2015)

Children's Hospital performs 400th heart transplant

The Heart Institute's Pediatric Heart Transplant team recently performed its 400th successful heart transplant on a seven-month old named Juniper Gelrod.  Baby June Bug, as she came to be known during her extended stay at Children's Hospital Colorado, was born with dilated cardiomyopathy.  She lived at Children's Hospital Colorado for six months, five of those months with a Berlin Heart while she awaited a transplant.  Read more about the story in Business Wire.

Four faculty earn spots on 5280 Magazine “Top Docs” list for 2014

5280 Magazine cover -- Top Docs issue -- August 2014

Congratulations to Drs. Joseph Cleveland, John Mitchell, David Campbell and James Jaggers for making the list of Top Docs in 5280 Magazine for 2014.

Dr. Cleveland, on the list for his third time, can be found under Thoracic & Cardiac Surgery. Dr. Mitchell is celebrating his tenth year on the list under Thoracic & Cardiac Surgery.

Drs. Campbell and Jaggers, achieving this honor for their fourth and third times, respectively, can be found under Congenital Cardiac Surgery.

View the list on the 5280 Magazine website.

(August 2014)

Congratulations Dr. Shelstad on his election to Thoracic Surgery Residents Association Executive Committee


                                   Ryan C. Shelstad, MD

                      2nd Year Thoracic Surgery Resident

Richard J. Shemin, MD to present at 10th Annual Alan R. Hopeman Lectureship in Cardiothoracic Surgery September 21-22, 2014


Since 2008, Richard J. Shemin, M.D., one of the nation’s top heart surgeons, has held the position of Executive Vice Chairman of the Department of Surgery, Chief of Cardiac Surgery, and Co-director of the Cardiovascular Center at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. His national reputation in performing valvular (mitral and aortic) repair and replacement serves as a platform for his pioneering studies to evaluate new technology for mechanical prostheses and bioprotheses, as well as surgical therapy for improving the long-term survival of heart-failure patients. He continues to be a leader in the development of minimally invasive cardiac surgery, specializing in robotic-assisted procedures, and collaborates with UCLA’s Center for Advanced Surgical and Interventional Technology. Dr. Shemin initiated UCLA’s participation in the Society of Thoracic Surgeons National Database to standardize quality improvement and patient safety. His current research aims to induce stem cells to become cardiovascular cells, in order to repair or replace damaged areas of the heart. Please join the division of Cardiothoracic Surgery on September 21-22, 2014 to welcome Dr. Shemin.


Dr. John Mitchell elected Vice President of the Western

Thoracic Surgical Association


Congratulations to Dr. Mitchell on his election as Vice President of the Western Thoracic Surgical Association.  He was elected during the WTSA's annual meeting at the end of June in at the St. Regis Hotel in Dana Point, CA. Following his one-year term as Vice President he will become the President. This is a well deserved position and highlights the Cardiothoracic Surgery program at the University of Colorado Denver.

July 2014 

CT Surgery Welcomes New Residents

The Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery is pleased to announce that Dr. Ed Bergeron and Dr. Giorgio Zanotti will join Dr. David Mauchley (Chief Resident), Dr. Justin Reeves (2nd year) and Dr. Ryan Shelstad (2nd year) for the 2014-2015 Academic Year.

Edward (Ed) J. Bergeron, MD

1st Year Resident AY 2014-2015

A native of northern Michigan who studied engineering at Michigan Tech University (Houghton, MI) and medicine at Wayne State University (Detroit, MI). He completed his general surgery residency at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine (Royal Oak, MI). His professional interests are in academic thoracic surgery, the study of early stage esophageal cancer, and targeted molecular therapies for thoracic malignancies.


Giorgio Zanotti, MD

1st Year Resident AY 2014-2015


A native of Lake Como, Italy who received his medical degree from the University of Pavia, Italy. he completed his general surgery training at Duke University in Durham, NC and his research fellowship at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, NC. Dr. Zanotti's area of clinical interest is in adult cardiac surgery valve surgery, heart failure and transplantation. 


David Mauchley, MD

Chief Resident AY 2014-2015

Chief Resident David C. Mauchley, MD received his medical degree from the Uniersity of Washington and completed his general surgery residency here at the University of Colorado. Dr. Mauchley is the recipient of the Paul C. Sampson Resident Prize, presented by the Western Thoracic Surgical Association, the Ben Eismann Research Award for Basic Science from the Department of Surgery, University of Colorado, The Churchill Award from the Department of Surgery, University of Colorado, and the J. Cuthbert Owens Award for Excellence in Teaching and Patient Care from the Department of Surgery, University of Colorado.

Justin G. Reeves, MD

2nd Year AY 2014-2015

A native of Portland, OR who, Dr. Reeves received his undergraduate degree from Duke University and his medical degree from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. He completed his General Surgical training at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH. Dr. Reeves' area of clinical interest is in general thoracic and cardiac surgery and medical care in resource poor settings.

Shelstad cropped.pngRyan C. Shelstad, MD

2nd Year AY 2014-2015

A native of Omaha, NE, Dr. Shelstad received his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and his medical degree from the university of Nebraska. He completed his General Surgical training at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Shelstad's area of clinical interest is in adult cardiac surgery, aortic surgery, heart failure and transplantation. His research interest lies in immune mechanisms of transplant rejection and graft vasculopathy. 

(July 2014)

David Fullerton, MD, elected President of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons

Dave Fullerton, MD

At the 50th Annual Meeting of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons, David Fullerton, MD, head of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, was elected President.

“STS has been a preeminent medical society for many years,” said Dr. Fullerton. “It is truly a great honor to lead such a tremendous organization. Its influences span far beyond our own specialty, and I plan to continue that tradition during my tenure.”

You can read coverage on Dr. Fullerton’s election in:

(February 2014)

Patient freed from choke hold of mysterious disease

Kristen Green and daughter Abby

Kristen Green was pregnant with her daughter Abby when she was diagnosed with a rare, life-threatening disease.

Physicians in Vail, Colorado, told Kristen Green that her shortness of breath was most likely caused by asthma or acid reflux. In fact, it was caused by a rare disease that was slowly closing off her airway.

After a frustrating three-year quest for relief, she ended up in the Intensive Care Unit at University of Colorado Hospital, where she was diagnosed with a condition known as ISS.

Her best chance for a cure was a complex and delicate surgery, but she was an expectant mother at the time, and her surgeons (our own Drs. Mitchell, Weyant, and Meguid) believed it was too dangerous for her to undergo the procedure while pregnant. This placed Kristen and her medical team in a quandary.

(January 2014)