Donald R. Kahn

Lives Lived

Donald R. Kahn, M.D.

Fall 2016
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Donald R. Kahn, M.D., of Mountain Brook, Alabama, passed away on Oct. 24, 2015. Kahn grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and earned his medical degree from the University of Alabama School of Medicine, with a medical internship at Washington University in St. Louis. Kahn then came to U-M, where he completed his medical residencies in general surgery and cardiac surgery. Kahn spent a major part of his career as a member of the faculty and medical staff at both the U-M and the University of Wisconsin. While at Michigan, he performed the first heart bypass surgery in the history of the university and in the state of Michigan. The procedure revolutionized modern medicine and the treatment of heart disease. He was also the first to use the internal mammary artery for the procedure.

Kahn served as chairman of the Department of Cardiac Surgery at the University of Wisconsin, where he performed the first heart transplant in the state. He also developed the solution that was used to transport donor hearts, and co-authored one of the first medical textbooks detailing cardiac surgery, Clinical Aspects of Operable Heart Disease.

Kahn worked in medicine for 60 years, receiving numerous honors and recognitions, and was part of many national and international medical boards and associations.

This is an edited version of an obituary provided by Kahn’s wife, Shirley Salloway Kahn, Ph.D.

Photo courtesy of Shirley Salloway Kahn