For many, of a certain age, we remember when heart disease translated to a death sentence. Medical science has made great strides in treating cardiovascular illnesses over the past 50 years, thanks in no small part to the work and dedication of pioneers like Dr. John Parker.
Having spent his formative years in Peterborough, John graduated as medical doctor in 1954. He went to Columbia University, New York, devoting himself to the relatively new field of cardiovascular medicine.
Returning to Canada in the 1960’s, John established one of the country’s first cardiac catheterization, and angiographic laboratories in Kingston. There, he helped streamline the use of heart-lung machines in cardiac surgery. He was instrumental in establishing a Division of Cardiology at Queens University and a research program in cardiovascular physiology and biochemistry. New inroads were made, under his guidance, in the use of nitroglycerin and other related drugs in treating cardiovascular disease.
He was adamant in his lobby effort with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons to initiate a sub-specialty in Cardiovascular Medicine. In that way, an ever-increasing number of surgeons and specialists have been trained in this new discipline.
Throughout his life, John Parker maintained an abiding love of family, the outdoors and, of course, hockey. His life represents ongoing contributions to medicine, science and family. John never lost sight of the fact that a scientist is also a human being. Because of the balance and dedication, the future of cardiac patients continues to look a lot brighter.