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Francine Leka, France’s first heart surgeon, dies

Francine Leka, France’s first heart surgeon, dies

Francine Leka, France’s first heart surgeon, dies

Francine Leka, the first woman to become a heart surgeon in France and a pioneer of pediatric heart surgery, has died aged 86, the association she founded told us on Saturday.

“Men’s World”

“The child’s heart was for her a work of art that she wanted to restore,” Pascal Gray-Lacourt, former director of the medical center of the association Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque, told AFP.

Francine Leka became the first female heart surgeon in France in 1971 after her first heart operation at Laennec Hospital in Paris. A “revelation” for the then student heading for hand surgery.

She decided to specialize in pediatric cardiac surgery, “a man’s world,” recalls Pascal Gray-Lacour, who worked with her for 45 years.

“I’m not a can opener”

In 1996, Professor Leka founded the Mesenat Cardiac Surgical Association after receiving a desperate letter from an Iranian father who was unable to perform heart surgery on his child in his country.

Since then, the association has operated on 5,000 children with heart defects in some sixty countries where there is no means to access this expensive operation.

Francine Leka “stayed close to many of her former patients whom she operated on as children. She said I’m not a can opener, I operate on my patients and look after them. “, recalls his former colleague, paying tribute to “her attentiveness and tolerance.”

Source: Le Parisien

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