New Brunswick

Saint John cardiologist and 'inspiring spirit' dies suddenly

Sohrab Lutchmedial, a prominent New Brunswick cardiologist, has died suddenly, leaving behind a large gap in the system and the community, colleagues say.

Dr. Sohrab Lutchmedial dedicated more than 20 years to the New Brunswick Heart Centre

Dr. Sohrab Lutchmedial, director of the interventional cardiology program at the New Brunswick Heart Centre, died on Nov. 8 at the age of 52. (Submitted by  Jean-François Légaré)

A prominent New Brunswick cardiologist has died, leaving behind a large gap in the system and the community, colleagues say.

Dr. Sohrab Lutchmedial dedicated more than 20 years to the New Brunswick Heart Centre and the care of patients suffering from heart disease, said a statement from the staff of the New Brunswick Heart Centre.

"It is with profound sadness that we report the sudden and unexpected death of a colleague, friend, father, partner and inspiring spirit," the statement says.

Lutchmedial died Monday in his sleep at his Saint John home, said Jean-François Légaré, the head of cardiac surgery at the New Brunswick Heart Centre. He was 52.

Légaré said family, friends and colleagues were shocked by the news of Lutchmedial's death.

"It was sudden, unexpected for all of us. He was actually on call yesterday morning," Légaré said in an interview. 

"I think all of us are having a hard time just sort of grasping at the size of the loss ... We chatted with him on the weekend about plans and things we were going to do, you know, in the next few weeks, few months for the heart centre.

"That's the kind of person he was. He was always thinking ahead of those things."

Lutchmedial was part of performing Atlantic Canada's first MitraClip procedure, a minimally invasive repair procedure that gives new hope to patients who are too sick to withstand open heart surgery.

The New Brunswick Medical Society is "deeply saddened" to learn of Lutchmedial's sudden passing, president Dr. Mark MacMillan said in a statement.

"Dr. Lutchmedial was a valued member of the medical community in Saint John and across the province," MacMillan said. "We offer our condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, and patients."

He made New Brunswick his home

According to the heart centre website, Lutchmedial obtained his biology degree from Queen's University and then his medical degree from McGill University in 1993. 

Légaré said his studies at McGill overlapped with Lutchmedial, who was already well respected.

"He did more than medicine," Légaré said.  "[He] was an artist. He was a musician. He participated in filmmaking in the province. He was a hockey coach for his kids. He was participating in the community. He was an avid researcher."

He said Lutchmedial was kind and understanding, even when one night at the pub, a man bumped into him and was looking for a fight. In a few words, Lutchmedial was able to defuse the situation and get the man to calm down.

"This is the kind of person that really had a very, very, very good soul and a person that really was able to bring people together and not be competitive," Légaré said.

Lutchmedial was part of making the heart centre the go-to centre for patients in Atlantic Canada who could benefit from the MitraClip procedure. (Facebook)

"This is the kind of influence that he had on the heart centre. And I think he promoted that culture within our group that actually brings us all closer together and working together."

Lutchmedial was the director of the interventional cardiology program at the centre. He sat on the New Brunswick Heart and Stroke board and was the Atlantic representative with the Canadian Association of Interventional Cardiologists. 

Légaré said Lutchmedial had made New Brunswick his home, and he raised three children here. He had just returned from visiting his daughter at university in Ontario last weekend.

Légaré said he and his colleagues are trying to find a way to immortalize his legacy, and are considering a lectureship or sponsoring someone in medicine or nursing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hadeel Ibrahim is a CBC reporter based in Saint John. She can be reached at hadeel.ibrahim@cbc.ca

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