California surgical pioneer dies at age 93

Dec. 27, 2012 at 11:59 AM
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LOS ANGELES, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Surgeon, scholar, researcher and author Leon Morgenstern, retired head of Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai's Department of Surgery died Sunday. He was 93.

After getting his medical degree from New York University College of Medicine, Morgenstern started at Cedars of Lebanon as a research assistant to Dr. David State as the department became accredited for its surgical residency, expanded its research and began open-heart procedures.

He worked until the day he died, a statement by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center said.

Morgenstern became director of surgery, a post he held after Cedars of Lebanon and Mount Sinai merged to become Cedars-Sinai in 1970.

Until 1988, Morgenstern presided over a period of sweeping change at the medical center as well as researching and publishing almost 300 articles in peer-reviewed journals and publications. He became a national leader for his pioneering work in surgeries of the spleen.

Under his leadership, Cedars-Sinai won recognition for its pre-eminence in cardiothoracic and intestinal surgery. New techniques in surgical specialties were quickly adopted and offered to patients, including intraocular lenses and laser surgery in ophthalmology, artificial joints in orthopedics, prosthetic grafts in vascular surgery, kidney stone dissolution in urology and the Swan-Ganz catheter and valve replacement in cardiac surgery.

Morgenstern insisted physicians always put patients and their needs first and criticized doctors who became wrapped up in jargon and acronyms. He urged even the busiest doctors to spend time seated at the bedside of those in their care, listening patiently, closely and carefully to every comment and complaint, Cedars-Sinai said.

He is survived by his wife Laurie Mattlin, sons David Ethan and Seth August, and five grandchildren.

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