Cardiac medicine and surgery have a rich and proud tradition at Toronto General Hospital. Even before the advent of open-heart surgery, TGH was pushing the boundaries of cardiac care with various procedures and discoveries. Most noteworthy were those procedures using vein graft techniques to save severed arteries and limbs that were performed by Dr. Gordon Murray. Along with Charles Best, the discoverer of insulin, Dr. Murray also developed the clinical use of heparin, an anti-coagulant used to prevent blood clotting following surgery.
The first attempts at open-heart surgery began at TGH in the 1940s and 50s. In 1951 Dr. Wilfred Bigelow developed and tested the first artificial cardiac pacemaker for human use. The opening of the Cardiovascular Investigative Unit at TGH in 1956 established one of the first permanent open-heart surgery teams in Canada.
Since the inception of the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (PMCC) in 1997, thanks to the exceptional vision and generosity of Peter and Melanie Munk, the Centre has become a leading referral centre for cardiac patients worldwide, handling 20,000 patient visits to specialized clinics and 1,700 open-heart surgeries annually. The Centre’s goal is to lead the future of cardiovascular care through discovery and unprecedented technological breakthroughs.