Francis G. Duhaylongsod ’78
2017 Samuel Chapman Armstrong Humanitarian Awardee
As a young child, Francis Duhaylongsod ’78 dangled threads from his family’s dining room chairs so he could practice tying one-handed knots. In intermediate school, he volunteered at Kuakini Hospital. And as a professor of surgery at Duke University, Dr. Duhaylongsod invented and perfected minimally invasive cardiac surgery – now a standard procedure that has replaced invasive heart surgery and shortened healing time for many patients.
In 2008, Duhaylongsod left medicine to join a company that was developing a new type of heart valve that could be placed into the body via a catheter, removing the need for an operation.
Despite some initial setbacks, the valve received coveted approval from the Food and Drug Administration in 2011. To date, more than 100,000 patients have been treated with this lifesaving therapy. By 2020, 170,000 patients every year will be treated with this type of heart valve, says Duhaylongsod. The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiologists have called the therapy “the greatest advancement in cardiovascular technology in the last quarter century.”
Reflecting on his early influences, Duhaylongsod credits one of his Punahou teachers, Liz Foster. “She was the most formidable person I had ever met, and she changed my life. She would say, ‘Life expects you to contribute, to use your gifts to truly make a difference.’”
Thousands of lives have been saved because of Duhaylongsod’s gift of healing. “I am truly indebted for the academics, the spiritual education and ethics that I learned from this school,” said Duhaylongsod.