Key word: Bloodless Medince

A doctor with heart ; The skilled surgeon who operated on an Iraqi girl is well known for both charity and church work.


Portland Press Herald (Maine); 2/26/2005; JOSIE HUANG Staff Writer

Portland Press Herald (Maine)

02-26-2005

A doctor with heart ; The skilled surgeon who operated on an Iraqi girl is well known for both charity and church work.
Byline: JOSIE HUANG Staff Writer
Edition: Final
Section: Local & State

Before a little Iraqi girl arrived in Portland this month to get her heart repaired, few outside medical circles recognized the doctor who did the operation.

But as the only children's heart surgeon in Maine, Dr. Reed Quinn is perhaps the state's most in-demand specialist.
Cardiologists from around the state refer their youngest patients to him. His skill in fixing the tiniest and most fragile of hearts means he gets the toughest adult cases, too.

And, more than any other surgeon in Maine, Quinn works on charity cases involving people who come to the United States because they lack access to life-saving services in their developing countries.

A history of humanitarian work abroad and his specialty make him a top choice of international relief workers.

"He's very famous in Mexico, I can tell you that," said Dr. John Love, a Portland cardiologist and a regular collaborator.

Quinn, a soft-spoken man who wears surgical caps with loud, colorful prints, deflects the spotlight.

After successfully operating on 5-year-old Noor Abd Al-Hady Hassan on Thursday, Quinn said, "It's always a team effort."

Friends and colleagues say Quinn's commitment to his patients is driven by his strong religious background.

His ties to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are visible throughout his Congress Street office: a painting of the Boston Temple hangs over his desk, his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University and medical degree from the University of Utah are on the wall.

There are framed pictures of the children he's raised as strong Mormons, including a son who did mission work in Taiwan and a daughter who studies English at his alma mater.

Since moving to Maine 11 years ago, Quinn has been heavily involved in the Mormon church. As president of the Augusta stake, Quinn oversees 12 churches in southern Maine.

He also helped to guide construction of a new church for the Yarmouth branch, to which he belongs. His duties included working with officials at world headquarters in Salt Lake City on the church's design, going before Yarmouth's Planning Board and meeting with neighbors who were unhappy with the construction.

"Between his work and his church, I frankly don't know how he does it," said Richard Bibber, branch president.

It is through Quinn's connection with the church that he became acquainted with Noor. After Utah National Guardsmen stationed in Iraq decided they wanted to help the girl get treatment, the unit's chaplain contacted Quinn, whom he knew from once living in Maine.

Quinn agreed to do the operation for free and brought Maine Med and other doctors on board.

Quinn, who does about six pro bono cases a year, is by no means the only Maine physician donating his time and money. At Maine Med alone, $8.3 million in charity care was given last year, representing hundreds of cases.

But Vincent Conti, the hospital's president and chief executive officer, said Quinn stands out.

"I think he, personally and ethically and morally, is the most committed to this," Conti said.

Over the last nine years, Quinn has traveled to Shanghai three times to perform free surgery, bringing about a dozen people with him at a time - including a pediatric cardiologist, an anesthesiologist and nurses - and donated medical equipment and supplies.

While there, he trains pediatric cardiac surgeons at the Children's Hospital Medical Center of Fudan University.

"I think medical knowledge just doesn't have any borders," Quinn said. "Each time I go back, I see a real improvement in the type of surgery that is being done."

Two of those surgeons have come to Maine for continued education with help from the Maine Foundation for Cardiac Surgery, set up at Quinn's medical practice, Maine Heart Surgical Associates.

The visiting surgeons shadow Quinn, who has gained a reputation in Maine for practicing cutting-edge cardiac care.

In the mid-1990s, Quinn was one of the first heart surgeons in the state to install pumps in patients who were waiting for heart transplants.

Last year, he was one of the first to use a robotic device to operate on heart patients - a less invasive practice than traditional surgery, allowing patients to recover in half the time.

He is even a go-to surgeon for what's called "bloodless medicine." Jehovah's Witnesses, who believe that blood is sacred, seek out surgeons like Quinn, who are trained to operate without blood transfusions.

Love said Quinn is "just a very skilled surgeon and also very willing to do things that haven't been done very often."

"We don't feel we could send our patients to any surgeon in the country that would be better than Reed," he said.

Staff Writer Josie Huang can be contacted at 791-6364 or at: jhuang@pressherald.com

Illustrations/Photos:
Caption: File photo Dr. Reed Quinn has gone to China three times to
perform free surgery and train doctors there.