T-Y Hsia, MD, is the chief of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery for Yale Medicine and Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital, and a leading expert in congenital heart surgery, a field that manages heart abnormalities that are present at birth. He is experienced in performing a wide spectrum of procedures for infants and children, including those who need surgery right after birth. In addition, he has extensive experience in taking care of adults with congenital heart conditions and in pediatric heart transplants.
Congenital heart disease is rare, affecting nearly seven in every 1,000 live births, and about five of those involve a problem that requires surgery, Dr. Hsia says. Since the congenital heart field began to evolve in the 1960s, the outlook for these patients has been improving constantly with the help of advanced surgical techniques, as well as a growing knowledge of the role of genetics and new devices to help failing hearts. “So not only are our patients surviving operations with very low mortality—which has not always been the case in the past—but they are also having a better quality of life,” Dr. Hsia says.
When he decided to become a doctor, Dr. Hsia wanted to find a specialty that would allow him to apply his background in mechanical engineering obtained as an undergraduate and graduate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He found that in heart surgery, because blood flow and heart-lung circulation follow mathematical principles. His surgical training took him to Baltimore, Philadelphia and eventually London, where he worked under the mentorship of one of the world’s preeminent pediatric cardiac surgeons at the time, Professor Marc de Leval. “The experience at the forefront of pediatric heart surgery transformed me as a person. I knew it was the path for me to help people,” he says.
A professor of surgery at Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Hsia maintains an active international research collaboration aimed at bringing about new innovations in surgical treatments for congenital heart defects using advanced engineering and computational modeling.
Dr. Hsia finds his work to be constantly stimulating—technically demanding while requiring a deep understanding of a wide host of complex abnormal circulations and physiology. Ultimately, though, he feels fortunate to be in a rewarding calling that “is always exciting, and one that touches the heart of everyone involved.” While he and his team “are fully aware of the stakes and risks,” he says, “we have an awesome ability to give a child and his or her family the potential for a lifetime of possibilities. It is an important responsibility, and I feel blessed to be part of a dedicated and caring team that brings hope to our patients and their families.”