- The Washington Times - Monday, December 27, 2004

Jonathan Drummond-Webb, 45, heart surgeon

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Dr. Jonathan Drummond-Webb, a heart surgeon whose work was the focus of a four-part television series and who successfully implanted a lifesaving miniature heart pump in a child, was found dead Sunday. He was 45.

Dr. Drummond-Webb took an overdose of medication and left a note for his wife, who discovered the body, Arkansas Children’s Hospital said. The hospital said friends think the surgeon suffered a sudden bout of depression.

Dr. Jonathan Bates, chief executive officer of Arkansas Children’s Hospital, said Dr. Drummond-Webb worked tirelessly to save his patients.

“Some would say they saved 98 out of 100,” Dr. Bates said Sunday. “He looked at it and said, ‘I lost two out of 100.’”

Dr. Drummond-Webb, chief of pediatric and congenital cardiac surgery at the hospital, was the subject of a four-part ABC News documentary mini-series in 2002. The network had said it was attracted by Dr. Drummond-Webb’s record at the time: 830 surgeries in 18 months with a 2 percent mortality rate.

In September, Dr. Drummond-Webb performed the first successful implant of a miniature heart pump in a 14-year-old boy with a heart defect, keeping him alive until a heart transplant was possible. The teen, Travis Marcus, was released from the hospital Thursday.

Travis’ father, Rick Marcus, said the family talked to Dr. Drummond-Webb by telephone on Christmas Day and nothing seemed wrong.

“He was wonderful to the kids. The kids meant everything to him,” Mr. Marcus said. “You don’t expect someone with that kind of vitality won’t be with us anymore.”

He said his son was devastated by word of the death, and had ended the Christmas Day conversation by saying, “I’ll see you, boss,” his nickname for Dr. Drummond-Webb.

Dr. Drummond-Webb said the only reason he allowed ABC’s cameras to follow him for the four-part series on its “Primetime” news show was to get out the message about organ donation.

Last week, he told the Associated Press: “This is a high-risk business. We see children walking out; we also see children who do not make it.”

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