Following His Heart

Renowned Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeon Combines Passion for People and Technology

A circuitous route has led renowned surgeon Ramin Beygui, M.D., to his new role as medical director of cardiothoracic and vascular surgery at NorthBay Healthcare. Yet every step of the way, he’s followed his heart.

He left Iran as a teenager with his family in the late 1970s, just before the overthrow of the shah and the Iranian Revolution. He lived in England and France before moving to the United States to live with his brother in Michigan.

Although he was keen on medicine, his math and science skills were strong, so he decided to pursue computer science and engineering at UC Berkeley. In just two-and-a-half years, he completed his bachelor’s degree and was on to his master’s, hoping to one day develop prostheses. He landed a great job in Sunnyvale, building circuit boards for computers, but something was missing. The human touch.

He remembers breaking the news to his father, on a long walk in Nice, France. “After all that, I thought you were going to get a job,” his dad said. “But he came around,” smiled Dr. Beygui. “Once he understood that it was really what I wanted to do, he was very supportive.”

Dr. Beygui is one of a handful of surgeons across the country to be simultaneously board-certified in cardiac, thoracic, vascular and general surgery.

“I always knew I wanted to become a doctor,” he added, noting that his father was his role model: an endocrinologist with practices in France and Iran. He saw firsthand how a doctor made a difference in people’s lives. Then a PBS special on Dr. Norman Shumway, pioneer of heart surgery, honed his focus: To combine his passion for people and technology with cardiology.

The rest, as they say, is history. His education didn’t stop after his medical degree from UC Irvine. He became one of a handful of surgeons across the country to be simultaneously board-certified in cardiac, thoracic, vascular and general surgery. He accepted leadership roles at UCLA and Stanford University Medical Center.

He served as director of thoracic aortic aneurysm at UCLA and was surgical director of lung and heart-lung transplantation at Stanford University Medical Center.

And, for the past seven years, he was an associate professor of cardiothoracic and vascular surgery in the Stanford University School of Medicine.

So why Solano County, and why now? “It is a terrific opportunity to practice the entire scope of my experience with respected colleagues and friends,” says Dr. Beygui. “I’m very excited about focusing on adult cardiac and aortic surgeries.”

And, he’s impressed with NorthBay Healthcare’s training and teamwork in its critical care units. “It’s as good here as any university where I’ve practiced,” he said. “The quality and focus of the whole team, from hospital physicians to the nursing staff, is tremendous. It is one thing to perform a complex surgery well, but it’s another to get a patient through an arduous, complex healing process. For that, you need a qualified team ready to handle any complication. That’s what we have at NorthBay.”

NorthBay Healthcare officials are equally pleased with the development. “The arrival of Dr. Beygui signals a new phase in the development of our heart program,” explained Deborah Sugiyama, president of NorthBay Healthcare Group. “Having someone with his credentials and experience will allow us to take our cardiac and vascular care to the next level.”

She added, “He brings an eminent reputation, but also skills in certain surgical techniques that do not exist in Solano County. His extensive expertise in advanced surgical practices will be an enhancement to our already exceptional surgical capabilities.”

While transplants are not planned in NorthBay’s future (university hospitals are far better equipped to handle the complex patient process, he says), Dr. Beygui is interested in pursuing new, high-tech alternatives to transplants.

“The technology is evolving quickly and in some cases may be far less risky than a transplant,” he explained. “You don’t have to worry about a body rejecting the heart. LVADS (Left Ventricular Assist Devices), for example, are technology of the future.”

NorthBay Healthcare opened Solano County’s first heart and vascular center in 2009 in NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield. Since the first open heart surgery, the heart team has operated on 245 patients. In 2010 NorthBay received certification by the American Society of Chest Pain Centers as a Level II Chest Pain Center, affirming its capability to provide immediate, life-saving treatment for patients having heart attacks.

Dr. Beygui and his wife, Nazy, a speech therapist, look forward to relocating to Solano County in the near future.

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