Swedish mourns beloved retired heart surgeon, Dr. Lester Sauvage

June 22, 2015

Dr. Lester R. Sauvage, a former cardiac surgeon at the Heart Center at Providence Medical Center, passed away June 5 in his sleep at the age of 88.

Dr. Sauvage was instrumental in pioneering cardiovascular research, including research that led to the first experimental coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery, now one of the most commonly performed heart surgeries.

Loved and respected by many caregivers and patients, Dr. Sauvage was known for his strong faith, his persistent optimism, his commitment to his work, and his relentless kindness toward each of his patients. He was known informally among hospital employees as "Saint Sauvage." Helen Mar, a current Swedish RN who scrubbed in with Dr. Sauvage for many years before he retired in 1992, said Dr. Sauvage would often stay late into the evening to check on patients or assist doctors in the fellowship program with their surgeries.

Dr. Sauvage spent 33 years as a surgeon at Providence Seattle Medical Center, which eventually became part of Swedish Medical Center. According to a recent Seattle Times article, Dr. Sauvage performed more than 10,000 surgeries in his career overall. Dr. Sauvage also founded the Bellevue-based Hope Heart Institute, with a mission to serve humanity through cardiovascular research and education, and wrote several books on heart health and happiness.

Dr. Sauvage cared for many and inspired many during his long career. He was a beloved member of the Swedish family of caregivers and he will be missed. 

Topics: Heart Vascular