A historic moment for Asante

For the first time, open-heart surgery at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center is performed by an all-female surgical team.

Cardiothoracic Surgeon Danielle Jacks, MD, made Asante history on May 17 when she performed the first open-heart surgery with an all-female team.

“Having that team with me is fantastic,” Dr. Jacks says. “It comes down to how well trained and how skilled our whole team is, and the fact that we all work together so well. That is what makes our whole system work and what makes the outcomes as good as they are.”

Jacks’ team included Surgical Technologist Amanda O’Brien, Amanda Hickey, RN, Anesthesiologist Ashley Gabrielsen, DO, Perfusionist Stephanie Beers, Stephani Cook, PA-C, Christina Martin, DNP, and Mollie Mish, RN. They performed an on-pump triple bypass surgery on an 88-year-old man who’s now home and doing well.

“It’s truly remarkable to witness the groundbreaking historical achievements of an all-female cardiothoracic surgical team,” says Surgery Manager Laura Nelson, BSN. “Led by Dr. Jacks, who is an exceptional surgeon, their collaboration represents not only exceptional skill and expertise but also a significant milestone in breaking down barriers and inspiring future generations of women in medicine.”

Only about 7 percent of cardiothoracic surgeons in the nation are female. Dr. Jacks says that’s probably because there are so few women surgeons in general (about 20 percent). But that’s changing. Nearly 50 percent of surgeons in residency are now female.

Dr. Jacks is one of only two cardiothoracic surgeons at Asante; the other is Dr. Charles Carmeci, whose mentorship is one of the reasons she returned to the Rogue Valley to practice.

Dr. Jacks grew up in Grants Pass and both her parents are physicians in the Rogue Valley. She came to Asante in October 2023 after living away for 20 years, most recently seven years in New Orleans for her surgical residency and fellowship.

“Dr. Carmeci is an amazing mentor and one of the top surgeons in the country,” she says. “The complexity of cases we see here rival what you would see at a tertiary care center or a university. Being able to continue to learn and work with him is really important for me. I have my strengths, and he has his strengths, and I teach him some things and he teaches me some things. We’re definitely a great partnership.”

Watch a video of the surgery and an interview with Dr. Jacks.

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Celebrate with cancer survivors at this year’s Walk for Hope, scheduled for Oct. 5 at the Heimann Cancer Center in Medford. Register to walk or volunteer by Sept. 20 to receive a free T-shirt.