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The Beginning


In 1959 Lester R. Sauvage, MD  founded the Reconstructive Cardiovascular Research Laboratory as a branch of Providence Seattle Medical Center (renamed The Bob Hope International Heart Research Institute in 1980, and later the Hope Heart Institute in 1988). The world's first successful experimental Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) operation using the patient's own vein as a bypass graft was accomplished in 1963.

Research Advancements in the 1970s

A standardized method is developed for using a patient's own blood to "pre-clot" artificial grafts. This process prevents internal bleeding and helps healing after grafts are implanted. A patent is granted for Sauvage Grafts - improved artificial grafts made from synthetic fibers - now in use worldwide. Institute investigators publish Prosthetic Replacement of the Aortic Valve, describing 10 years of research on aortic heart valves. Forty articles are published on the healing and design of artificial arteries and heart valves.


altThe Hope's Progress During the 1980s

HOPE Publications© launched in 1981 with distribution of the first HOPE Health Letter®. Today, products include a wide variety of booklets, brochures, videos and health newsletters. Readership numbers over 5 million annually.

In 1984, using only the patient's internal thoracic (chest) arteries, the first team is able to bypass blockages in all of the main coronary arteries. Discovery: The potential for a patient's blood to clot affects the success of replaced arteries.

In the late '80s a new method is developed for producing lead-proof grafts to rebuild arteries. A new compound (citramine) is discovered to reduce the possibility of blood clots in patients living with heart disease. Development of a method - called Clinical Atherosclerosis Predisposition Factors (CAP factors) - is used to predict an individual's likelihood to develop blood clots. Eventually pretreated, leak-proof artificial grafts are developed.

The Heart Improvement Program (H.I.P.) - a multidisciplinary, heart-healthy curriculum - piloted with fourth graders in three Seattle schools.

altStudies & Publishing in the 1990s

A successful national and international network of 62 prominent surgeons and institutions committed to sending explanted human grafts to The Hope for study is established.

In 1996 Dr. Sauvage publishes The Open Heart: Secret to Happiness (stories of hope and healing) with forewords written by Mother Teresa and former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop. Dr. Sauvage founds Better Life Press in 1998 and publishes his second book, You Can Beat Heart Disease: Prevention and Treatment (how to live a longer, healthier life). Dr. Sauvage shares messages from his two books during numerous national radio and television talk show appearances.

Robert Lazzara, MD and Associate Medical Director of The Hope Heart Institute (THHI), performs the world's first open-heart surgery shown live via the Internet. Collaborations begin to test robotic methods for minimally invasive cardiac surgery.

The Hope presents a symposium on women and heart disease at BIO '99, an international biotechnology conference.

Hope Heart Fellowship Program

The Hope Heart Institute wishes to acknowledge the dedicated doctors who participated in The Lester R. Sauvage Research Fellowship Program from 1967 through 1999.  We greatly appreciate their contributions to the field of cardiovascular health

The Hope Heart Fellows List


Expansion During 2000

Dr. Sauvage continues his writing with The Better Life Diet©.

altIn 2001, pre-eminent vascular biology researcher Tom Wight, PhD and his team of researchers from the University of Washington join The Hope. Hope scientists begin a collaborative five-year research project to "grow" a living heart, an undertaking that could lead to tissue engineered replacement hearts and the means to grow other major organs in the laboratory.In 2002, The Hope joins University of Washington Engineered Biomaterials and MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) to create a comprehensive, cardiovascular education program for grades 6-12 called Youth Take Heart™.

altThe Hope collaborates with Powerful Schools to sponsor a highly interactive four part community seminar series called Women Take Heart™. The program expands into an on-going heart disease public education initiative for women. That same year The Lester R. Sauvage Healing Heart Guild is founded by two young women affected by heart disease.

altIn collaboration with the Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason, THHI moved basic scientific research into the new Hope Heart Program at BRI from 2004-2014. Seattle Cardiovascular Research transferred all clinical research programs to THHI. More than a dozen cardiologists conduct clinical trials on various medications and devices in the new Hope Heart Clinical Research program. In 2005, the program expanded to include the research projects of physicians at Eastside Cardiology. In conjunction with Health Communications Inc. Chicken Soup for the Soul Healthy Living: Heart Disease is published.

altThe Hope launches Kids Take Heart, an interactive educational program for children in grades K-6. In five short years the program has reached 15,000 students. Production began in 2009 to create an online training piece enabling teachers across the country the opportunity to certify, enumerably expanding the reach of Kids Take Heart.The Education Department launches Teen Take Heart; a science-based cardiovascular curriculum at high schools in the Puget Sound area.

altAfter 18 years of a black tie event for the On Wings of Hope Gala, 2006 gives the gala a different look - turning it into a rock and roll party in 2006 and the years that follow.The Hope celebrated 50 years of innovative research and education in 2009.