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Title: Interview with K. Alvin Merendino - #2
Original format: VHS
Item Id.: spl_ds_amerendino_01_02
Description: This is part 2 of 3 of an interview with Alvin Merendino. This interview was conducted by Donald Schmechel on May 12, 1988 at Merendino’s Seattle home.
Alvin Merendino (1914-2011) was a noted thoracic surgeon, known for his innovative contributions to surgical techniques. Merendino was born in Clarksburg, West Virginia and attended Ohio University, Yale and the University of Minnesota to receive his undergraduate, M.D. and Ph.D. During his time in Minnesota, he worked as a research Assistant to Dr. Owen H. Wangensteen in the Experimental Surgery Laboratory. He came to Seattle in 1949 and joined the University of Washington as a professor of surgery. In 1950 he became directory of UW’s Experimental Surgical Laboratory where he remained until 1972. During his time he also became professor of surgery and chair of the Department of Surgery. 1956 Merendino became the first person on the West Coast to perform open heart surgery. His wife, Shirley, was a nurse to whom he attributed much of his career success. Together the couple had five children. In 1976, Merendino took a leave of absence from UW to take on responsibilities at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh where he soon became director of medical affairs and during a later stay, directory of the Cancer Therapy Institute and the King Faisal Medical City. He was also active in the medical community, serving as a member of the National Board of Medical Examiners and as chair of the American Board of Surgery. In 2002 Merendino and his wife, Shirley, established the Merendino Endowed Fellowship at the University of Washington to support talented and impactful surgeons.
During the first portion of the interview, Merendio discusses his family history, education, medical training and early career. In the second part he touches on his career as a surgeon, a trainer of surgeons and a member of the National Board of Surgeons. The third volume touches on his time a surgeon and medical advisor in Saudi Arabia and a review of the high points of his career and achievement, as well as what he has been doing with his retirement.
This interview is part of the Donald Schmechel Oral History Collection. Don Schmechel, who was a member of the Seattle Public Library Foundation board, began this project with Seattle Public Library in 1984, with the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) brought on board as a partner in early 1985. Schmechel himself worked to raise the funding for the project, and volunteered his time to manage the project, and to conduct interviews along with a crew of volunteers. Originally titled the Videotaping Historic Figures (VHF) Program, the project interviewed 91 people, with a portion of the interviews entering the collections of the Seattle Public Library and a portion of them going to MOHAI.The interviews conducted with these Seattle civic, business and cultural leaders in 1985 are valuable first-hand accounts that provide insight into developments taking place in the mid-twentieth century.
Digitization of this videotape material has been made possible in part by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.