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Brian Reemtsen to Lead Arkansas Children’s Heart Institute

3 min read

Arkansas Children’s Hospital on Monday named pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon Brian Reemtsen to lead its new Heart Institute.

Reemtsen, a nationally renowned physician, will also hold the Log-a-Load for Kids of Arkansas Endowed Chair for Pediatric Cardiovascular Surgery at Children’s and serve as professor of surgery in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ College of Medicine’s Department of Surgery.

With a salary of $1.3 million, Reemtsen will be the third highest-paid state employee, behind University of Arkansas football coach Bret Bielema ($4.1 million) and UA men’s basketball coach Mike Anderson ($2.45 million), according to state salaries as reported by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in March. 

“We searched for an exceptional leader to join us as we champion children by making them better today and healthier tomorrow,” Arkansas Children’s President and CEO Marcy Doderer said in a news release. “Dr. Reemtsen is a patient-focused, data-driven heart surgeon and researcher. As the leader of the Heart Institute, he will ensure world-class care for all of the cardiovascular patients at Arkansas Children’s, from those with the tiniest hearts to our adult congenital heart disease patients.”

Reemtsen most recently served as associate professor of surgery and pediatrics and chief of congenital heart surgery and pediatric heart transplant for at Mattel Children’s Hospital and the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles, at the Ronald Reagan Medical Center. 

There, he gained national attention for performing a heart transplant for the youngest recipient at UCLA in 25 years: a 3-week-old who received a new heart the size of a strawberry.

As director of the new Heart Institute, Reemtsen said he’ll focus on the fastest-growing patient population of adult congenital heart disease; on improving outcomes among the smallest, most high-risk children; and on strengthening the hospital’s world-class transplant program.

“I feel very honored and overwhelmingly excited about the opportunity to not only lead this great institution, but to have a significant impact on its growth and national presence,” Reemtsen said in a news release. “My top priorities are the patients and their families and collaborating with their referring physicians.”

The Heart Institute will be part of Arkansas Children’s Hospital David M. Clark Heart Center. ACH siad that to be designated as an institute, a pediatric cardiovascular program must integrate innovative research, like discoveries in clinical trials through Arkansas Children’s Research Institute, and philanthropic support.

Reemtsen earned his medical degree from New York Medical College. He completed his internship and residency at the UCLA School of Medicine and served as chief resident at UCLA.

Reemtsen also trained as a fellow in cardiac surgery at the University of Washington. He completed a 12-month Fellow Congenital Heart Surgery Program in 2004 at the Great Ormond Street Hospital’s Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery in London.

Reemtsen is board certified by the American Board of Surgery, American Board of Thoracic Surgery, and Congenital Heart Subspecialty. He is also a member of the American Medical Association, president of the Western Thoracic Surgical Association, a member of the Longmire Surgical Society, and is a candidate member of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

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