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Our Founder: Dr. Lester R. Sauvage


Lester R. Sauvage, MD was a young cardiovascular surgeon in 1959 when he founded the Hope Heart Institute, a cardiovascular research facility. He began his practices at Providence Seattle Medical Center and Children's Medical Center in Seattle just a few months before opening the doors of The Hope. His efforts were balanced between his clinical research and his work as a surgeon.

During his long cardiovascular surgical career, Dr. Sauvage distinguished himself in ways too rarely seen in medical professionals. He appealed to the most human aspects of healing - caring for the "whole person," not just his patients' symptoms. He valued and respected each individual's spiritual needs and recognized the important role a "healthy soul" can play in healing the heart.


His reputation for extraordinary acts of kindness towards his patients is legendary: He was known to check in on his patients in the wee hours of the morning, or to meet a terrified patient at the airport before open-heart surgery. Still known informally among hospital employees as "Saint Sauvage," he clearly has made an unusual impact on his colleagues as well. He encourages us all to focus on the things that bring meaning to our lives.


Dr. Sauvage's research at the Hope Heart Institute beautifully complemented his surgical career. Drawing in talented researchers who share his mission to serve humanity through this important work, Dr. Sauvage's research teams at The Hope have conducted groundbreaking cardiovascular research. Research achievements include the first successful experimental coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery - the most frequently performed heart surgery today - and design of improved artificial arteries and heart valves.

Thousands of surgeries and more than two decades later, The Hope continues to conduct pioneering cardiovascular research. Dr. Sauvage retired from surgery in 1991, and continued as Medical Director Emeritus of The Hope until his passing in 2015.

FAMILYHe still spreads heart-healthy messages to people worldwide through his five books: Open Your Heart to the Magic of Love; Opening Hearts: A Cardiovascular Surgeon Reflects on Faith, Healing, Love and the Meaning of Life; The Open Heart; You Can Beat Heart Disease and The Better Life Diet. Most of Dr. Sauvage's articles are available on PubMed.