Dr Jeremy Swan

Co-inventor of the Swan-Ganz heart catheter

Jeremy Swan was a world-renowned cardiologist and the co-inventor in 1968 of the Swan-Ganz heart catheter. His invention, made with a student of his called Willie Ganz, revolutionised heart surgery. The catheter, which is still used today, enabled bedside monitoring in critically ill patients by measuring heart output and capillary pressure in the lungs. This improved the care of patients with heart attacks, serious burns, acute respiratory failure and many other conditions.

Harold James Charles ("Jeremy") Swan, cardiologist: born Sligo 1 June 1922; Physiology Lecturer, St Thomas' Hospital Medical School 1948-51; Research Associate, then Consultant Cardiologist, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota 1951-65; Director of Cardiology, Cedars of Lebanon Hospital (later Cedars-Sinai Medical Center), Los Angeles 1965-87 (Emeritus); Professor of Medicine (Cardiology), University of California Los Angeles 1965-87; married first Pamela Skeet (two sons, four daughters, and one daughter deceased; marriage dissolved), second 1973 Roma Shahbaghlian; died Los Angeles 7 February 2005.

Jeremy Swan was a world-renowned cardiologist and the co-inventor in 1968 of the Swan-Ganz heart catheter. His invention, made with a student of his called Willie Ganz, revolutionised heart surgery. The catheter, which is still used today, enabled bedside monitoring in critically ill patients by measuring heart output and capillary pressure in the lungs. This improved the care of patients with heart attacks, serious burns, acute respiratory failure and many other conditions.

Swan was born in Sligo in Ireland, the son of two general practitioners. From Castle Knock School he went to St Vincent's College, Dublin. His studies were soon interrupted by meningitis and he lapsed into a coma, to be saved by the timely intervention of his mother, who gave him sulfa drugs, the only antibiotic that existed in those pre-penicillin days. He recovered, both as a scholar and as an athlete (he was a middleweight boxer) and went to St Thomas' Hospital Medical School in London. By the time he qualified in 1945, he was regarded by his fellow students as a genius.

After six months as a casualty surgeon, he did two years' war service with the RAF, mainly at a service hospital in Iraq. Returning to St Thomas', he spent three years as physiology lecturer and was awarded a PhD for his early work on cardiac catheterisation and pharmacology, researching under Henry Barcroft.

Swan soon joined the brain drain, taking a research fellowship in 1951 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota with Dr Earl Wood, a leading heart physiologist. Here he took his skills into the cardiac catheterisation laboratory, where he defined the problems of congenital heart disease, and developed techniques for measuring heart output and detecting shunts between the two sides of the heart.

He established a reputation as an innovative and prolific research scientist and clinician, and during this period published over 100 papers. Not surprisingly, he was courted by other hospitals and universities, and colleagues were surprised when in 1965 he chose the little-known Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, now the acclaimed Cedars-Sinai Hospital, in Los Angeles, a non-profit-making establishment in Los Angeles. He stayed there for 22 years, publishing another 300 papers covering all aspects of cardiology, including in 1968 a description of the device that bears his name. The idea, he said, came from watching the sail of a boat on Santa Monica Bay.

His many awards and distinctions included the Walter Dixon Memorial Medal of the British Medical Association, and an honorary doctorate from Trinity College Dublin in 1996. He made regular visits to Trinity, and there is a fund in his name there for teaching medical ethics.

After retirement Swan moved to Pasadena, where he maintained his interest in medicine and medical ethics, and continued to give invited lectures. He had the Irish way with words, an Irish wit, and occasionally an Irish temper.

In 2001, he suffered a stroke but remained, according to his second wife, Roma, "strong, courageous and gallant". He died in his own hospital, from complications following a heart attack.

Caroline Richmond

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
James Hewitt has firmly denied being Harry’s father
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
News
news
News
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Embedded Linux Engineer - C / C++

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A well funded smart home compan...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Engineer - Python / Node / C / Go

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: *Flexible working in a relaxed ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Bookkeeper

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This accountancy firm have an e...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Developer / Mobile Apps / Java / C# / HTML 5 / JS

£17000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Junior Mobile Application Devel...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?