Dr. Robert D. Wuerflein, M.D.
Resident of Saratoga
May 27, 1936 - September 16, 2010
On September 16, Dr. Robert D. Wuerflein, highly regarded Cardiovascular Surgeon passed away. Dr. Wuerflein made many contributions to the field of valvular heart surgery. Under his leadership, the Good Samaritan Hospital of San Jose became one of the largest open-heart surgery programs in California.
In 2004, the Santa Clara County Medical Association honored him with the Benjamin Corey Award given for his forward-looking, pioneering ideas, enterprise, enthusiasm and prolonged professional stature and ability. He has been revered by both patients and colleagues as a uniquely talented and highly respected physician, surgeon and human being, always a true gentleman. His leadership, impeccable clinical judgment and ability to catalyze a cooperative spirit among his perioperative team helped them focus on generating the best possible care for his patients.
Dr. Wuerflein was born in Enid, Oklahoma. Following service in the United States Army, he was graduated from Phillips University and Medical School at the University of Oklahoma. During Medical School one of his three papers published in respected surgical journals on preservation of arterial heart grafts, became the standard surgical technique that would later save many lives. He would be honored with the Student Research Achievement Award upon graduation.
He completed his internship and cardiac surgical training at Stanford University Medical School under the tutelage of one of the pioneers of open-heart surgery, Dr. Norman Shumway. During his residency, he received the prestigious Neizer Fellowship and traveled to University of Marseille. With the help of Dr. Vincent Dor, he established what was to be the first heart homograft program in France. He published six papers in French surgical journals, primarily on homograft valve replacement. He returned to Stanford to provide care for the first heart transplant recipient at Stanford.
His achievements included: Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery at Stanford University, Associate Chief of Cardiac Surgery at the Palo Alto Veterans Hospital and the Santa Clara County Valley Medical Center. In 1971 he co-founded the Western Heart Associates Medical group. Five years later he left to establish the cardiac surgery program at Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose. In l981, he established the San Jose Cardiac Medical Group with several other cardiac surgeons. He pioneered techniques for Valvular surgery and made presentations at other cardiac centers across the United States and Europe.
His love for people extended into retirement. He has served as a consultant and peer reviewer of cardiac surgery programs. He has served on the Board of Good Samaritan Hospital and the Board of the Stroke Awareness Foundation helping to standardize treatment for stroke patients and public education for stroke signs. He loved sports, especially golf, and valued special friendships.
He is survived and will be greatly missed by his wife Sue, a daughter Kristin (Bob) Mayer, two son's Eric and Mark, step children Kim (Bob) Schiff, Wm. Scott (Julie), John (Cindy), Dan (Amy) Edson and ten grandchildren: Connor, Claire, Logan (Edson), Lauren, Will, Nicholas (Schiff), Grant, Clark, Ella (Edson) and Avery (Edson). He is also survived by his sister Anita (Terry) Hicock. His brother Don preceded him in death.
A Memorial service is scheduled for 5:30 pm Friday, September 24, at Good Samaritan Hospital Auditorium. Visitation will be Thursday, September 23 from 4 pm to 7 pm at the Darling Fischer Chapel of the Hills in Los Gatos.
In lieu of flowers donations in his honor may be made to the Stroke Awareness Foundation of San Jose at 2085 Hamilton Ave, San Jose, the "Robert D. Wuerflein, M.D fund at Stanford University School of Medicine" Gift Processing Office, Post Office Box 20466, Stanford, C. 94309, or the charity of your choice.
Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on Sept. 22, 2010