The Sunday Magazine·The Sunday Edition

The Heart of the Matter

Dr. R.J. Cusimano is one of Canada's top cardiac surgeons. After performing thousands of operations, he still feels a sense of wonder when he sees a heart beating. He talks to Michael about his passion for healing, and about why the metaphor of the heart as the source of all emotion is so powerful.
Dr. Robert James Cusimano, cardiac surgeon at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, performs a triple bypass operation while a medical Fellow from Japan assists. (Courtesy Peter Munk Cardiac Centre)
He is a doctor who has been called by patients and colleagues everything from brilliant, to a gem, to a rock star. But the description most often used, is compassionate.  Not surprising, since he has touched the hearts of thousands of people - literally!  He is Dr. Robert James Cusimano, considered Canada's top cardiac surgeon.
Dr. Cusimano is recognized around the globe for his skill as a cardiac surgeon. He is also a Professor of Surgery at the University of Toronto and has taught hundreds of medical students in Canada and around the world. (Courtesy of the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre )

Though his home base is the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at Toronto General Hospital, Dr. Cusimano's influence is felt around the world. In 2006 the Chinese invited him to perform heart surgery, televising the operation to over a 100 million people. He continues to make annual trips to China to teach cardiac surgery.

Dr. Cusimano is not only a highly regarded cardiac surgeon. He is also known around the globe for being one of a small handful of surgeons adept at removing heart tumours, rare growths on hearts that can either be benign or cancerous, but are always potentially life-threatening. Earlier this year, he led the first international conference on cardiac tumours.

Michael talks to Dr. Cusimano about his journey to becoming a heart surgeon, the role faith plays in his work, and why he remains amazed by the human heart.

Renowned cardiac surgeon Dr. Robert James Cusimano performs heart surgery

6 years ago
Duration 3:26
Dr. Robert James Cusimano, cardiac surgeon leads a multi-disciplinary surgical team, which includes anethesiologists, radiologists and a cardiac surgery Fellow from Japan, in performing double bypass surgery. Footage from January 2016.


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