Viktor Hraska, MD, PhD, Announcement

January 10, 2022: Dr. Joseph Kerschner's Monday Morning Coffee communication

Viktor Hraska, MD, PhD"On Friday, December 31, 2021, Viktor Hraska, MD, PhD, Professor of Surgery and Chief of Pediatric Congenital Cardiac Surgery at MCW, Medical Director of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Children’s Wisconsin, and Surgical Director of the Herma Heart Institute, stepped down from his leadership roles after five and one-half years of exemplary service. Dr. Hraska will continue to work with the team in a nonclinical capacity from 2022 through 2024, when he intends to retire. Michael Mitchell, MD, has assumed the cardiothoracic leadership roles held by Dr. Hraska as well as The S. Bert Litwin Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery at Children’s.

In January 2021, Dr. Hraska thoughtfully announced his intention to step down – a year in advance – to ensure stability of the program as well as a smooth and effective handoff of leadership responsibilities to Dr. Mitchell. The two leaders worked together closely in 2021 on priorities that include congenital heart surgery faculty recruitment and retention, overseeing transition of cases, team management and strategic planning. One of the PRACTICES I have really come to appreciate at MCW in general is the way our PEOPLE are very intentional about succession PLANNING – which has a direct impact on sustaining excellence and the stability of our PROGRAMS!

Recently, I attended Dr. Hraska’s “farewell” lecture – and while I was familiar with many parts of his story, I was inspired by his journey and wanted to share it with my readers in greater detail. The lecture, titled “My Journey Through Congenital Heart Surgery” – is available via this hyperlink.

Dr. Hraska, a world-renowned pediatric cardiovascular surgeon, joined MCW and Children’s in July 2016. He trained in Czechoslovakia, Slovakia and Germany and at Boston Children’s Hospital – completing residencies in anesthesia, cardiology, surgery and vascular surgery, and fellowships in cardiac surgery and pediatric cardiac surgery. Dr. Hraska’s impact at MCW/Children’s has been truly significant. He has been instrumental in the growth of our second opinion program and our international patient program. He has partnered with his colleagues in the Herma Heart Institute to develop and implement the use of our Cardiac Insight application and Technical Performance Score to improve surgical outcomes and quality, and he enacted protocols that have led to reduced case time while maintaining volume. Additionally, Dr. Hraska has enhanced our research program with the addition of key recruits and with his own work on lymphatics, congenital aortic stenosis, corrected transposition of the great arteries, optimization of cardiopulmonary bypass, and hydrodynamic evaluation of arch reconstruction in the Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome population.

We are truly fortunate to have someone with Dr. Mitchell’s skill and passion in place to transition into these critical leadership roles and ensure our program’s continued success moving forward. Dr. Mitchell received his medical degree magna cum laude from Harvard Medical School, completed general surgery and thoracic surgery residencies at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, and served as chief resident at Boston Children’s Hospital for pediatric cardiothoracic surgery. He completed his fellowship in pediatric cardiothoracic surgery at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and joined the faculty at Children’s and MCW in 2006. Since joining our organizations, Dr. Mitchell has performed thousands of cardiac operations on neonates and children and has served in numerous critical national leadership positions. Dr. Mitchell most recently served as Director of Regional Surgical Services, Adult Congenital Heart Surgery and the Residency Program in Congenital Heart Surgery. Over the course of his career, he has been awarded millions of dollars in grants to fund his research and discoveries. He has authored more than 130 publications, holds six fully issued patents, and has developed five FDA-approved medical devices.

Additionally, Dr. Hraska has graciously allowed me to share a video tribute that was made by his colleagues in honor of his retirement. We are exceptionally grateful for Dr. Hraska’s many invaluable contributions to MCW, Children’s and Herma Heart, and wish him well in this new phase of his life’s journey!"

Joseph E. Kerschner, MD
Provost and Executive Vice President
The Julia A. Uihlein, MA, Dean of the School of Medicine