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At halftime of the March 2nd UNC Men’s Basketball home game against NC State University, UNC Anesthesiology was in the spotlight as Division of Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology peri-operative providers were recognized as part of the UNC Health Cardiology and Thoracic Surgical team that provided lifesaving care in fall 2023 to Brian Smith, the grandson of legendary deceased Coach Dean Smith. Mid-court, members of the Smith family joined representatives of a UNC Health Cardiology and Thoracic Surgical team that surgically treated Brian Smith for a serious, life-threatening cardiac condition. UNC Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology faculty member and Edward A. Norfleet, MD ’70 Distinguished Professor Susie Martinelli, MD, FASA, one of the surgical team leaders involved Mr. Smith’s care last fall, joined other UNC School of Medicine surgical faculty who represented their UNC Health care teams mid-court at the March 2nd game.

Professor of Anesthesiology and Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology Division Chief Dr. Lavinia Kolarczyk noted: I want to highlight our entire perioperative team for their recent public recognition at the UNC Men’s Basketball game earlier this month.  Their individual expertise and collective efforts to care for Dean Smith’s grandson Brian represents the amazing teamwork we do every single day in and around the cardiac OR. Thank you friends, for your tireless dedication to our patients and to our team.  I am so proud to be your colleague!”

The below, full tribute was delivered at the pre-game ceremony of the UNC – NC State Basketball Game in early March.

“For 36 years, Dean Smith taught his players and our community the principles of Play Hard, Play Smart and Play Together.

Those core principles helped Carolina become one of the successful programs in college basketball and helped develop young men who went on to success in basketball, law, medicine, education and many other endeavors.

Numerous organizations have adopted and applied those fundamentals, and today we celebrate one that has a unique connection to our Hall of Fame coach.

With us at center court are professionals from UNC Health, specifically the Cardiology and Thoracic Surgical team, and members of the Smith family.

Last fall, the medical team led by surgeons Dr. John Ikonomidis and Dr. Thomas Caranasos, Dr. Susan Martinelli, Dr. Michael Yeung, Andrew Shirlen and Kevin Haas, embodied the values of working hard, smart and together to save the life of Coach Smith’s grandson – Brian Dean Smith – after he experienced a serious cardiac condition.

To the countless doctors, nurses, residents, nurse practitioners, lab techs and other staff who make enormous positive contributions across our state, and who in this instance saved the life of Brian Smith, we thank you for your adherence to and belief in exceptional teamwork embodied on this very basketball court for so many years by Coach Smith.

Please join Carolina Athletics and the Smith family for thanking our medical all-stars for Brian’s surgical care and the lives they save every day.”