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Ted Diethrich, MD 1935-2017 

Ted Diethrich


Edward “Ted” Diethrich, a high-profile cardiac surgeon who started the Arizona Heart Institute and once performed open-heart surgery on live television, has died of brain cancer.

He earned his medical degree at the University of Michigan, then moved to the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston where he trained under Michael DeBakey.

In 1971, Dr. Diethrich moved to Phoenix to found the Arizona Heart Institute (AHI). He served as Medical Director and Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery for the Institute and was the Founder of the Institute’s nonprofit Arizona Heart Foundation. During his surgical career,  he developed the sternal saw used routinely today for open chest surgery, established an outpatient cardiac catheterization laboratory at AHI, and initiated the first heart and heart/lung transplantation program in Phoenix.

Diethrich had a number of high profile patients including the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Scali, televangelist Billy Graham and Senator Barry Goldwater. In 1983, he performed a cardiac bypass operation on a two-hour telecast, called “The Operation,” aired live on KAET-TV (Channel 8) and aired on nearly 100 other PBS stations across the country.

Dietrich is survived by his wife, Gloria; son, Tad; daughter, Lynne; and eight grandchildren. Donations were requested to be sent to the Arizona Heart Foundation.