N.B.: The detail displayed about each honorary degree recipient varies, as
the database was compiled from a variety of sources. However, more information may
be available at the University Archives.
Convocation date: May 26, 1999
Discipline / contribution: medicine - cardiovascular
Citation / biographical information:
Raymond O. Heimbecker was born in Calgary, After receiving his BA at the University of Saskatchewan, his clinical training was in the University of Toronto leading to the M.D. in 1947. After a year of rotating internship in the Toronto General Hospital he began a long combination of research and clinical training that formed the pattern of his later life. Research with Wilfred Bigelow in Toronto, with Alfred Blalock at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and with Sir Russell Brock at Guyâ€™s Hospital in London, England, was combined with the full training of both a cardiovascular surgeon and a general surgeon under the guidance of Professor R.M. Janus of the University of Toronto and Dr. Gordon Murray, culminating in Chief Residency in General Surgery, the Toronto General Hospital.Degree received: Doctor of Science
In 1955 Dr. Heimbecker became a member of the Active Staff of the Department of Surgery in the University of Toronto and Research Associate in the Ontario Heart Foundation. He became Cardiovascular Consultant to the Wellesley Hospital, Toronto in 1962. Along the way he obtained his M.A. in Physiology and his M.S. in Surgery.
Dr. Heimbecker won the George Peters Award for Experimental Surgery, the Lister Award for Experimental Surgery, the Gold Medal of the Royal College of Surgeons of Canada, a McLaughlin Travelling Fellowship, and a Special Award from the Rose Foundation of India for pioneer teaching and research in cardiovascular disease, and was the first Gordon Murray lecturer of the University of Toronto.
He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Canada, the American College of Surgeons, the American Surgical Association, the American College of Cardiology and the American College of Chest Physicians. In 1974 he was an obvious choice to become the first Professor and Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery in the new University Hospital in London, Ontario. Both experimental and clinical work in the hospital has flourished under his direction.
Ray Heimbecker is remarkable for his ability to translate an idea into practical use. He is an artisan with a workshop in his home. He will work out in brass or plastic a model that will be functional before made in its final form. A quartz rod mounted in brass and plastic was the prototype of an instrument for prolonged microscopic observation of living tissues. The first adult open heart surgery in Canada was done with a machine, much of which was devised in his workshop. The apparatus is in the Toronto General Hospital museum. He developed a pump oxygenatol built into a patient stretcher that can keep a patient alive and transportable till open heart surgery can be set up, a great boon in a patient who has survived pulmonary embolus but is not coming into cardiovascular balance. More recently, he has developed a device that can recover shed blood during cardiovascular surgery and after filtration, return the blood to the patient.
With all his research and clinical work Dr. Heinibecker pursues a wide range of hobbies; he flies his own plane, sails his own boat, is an expert photographer, skier, and fisherman. He and his charming wife Kathy raise game birds on their farm in Collingwood.
Degree presented by: David Popkin, Dean of Medicine
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