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Members of the Cardiothoracic Surgery team were honored in a tribute delivered at the pre-game ceremony of the UNC-NC State Basketball Game on Saturday, March 2, 2024 for their care of Brian Smith, grandson of Dean Smith.

Pictured from L-R:  Scott Smith (Brian’s Dad), Mike Yeung MD (Brian’s Cardiologist), Tommy Caranasos MD (UNC CT Surgeon), Kevan Haas (CT APP), Andy Shirlen (CT APP), Austin Reed (Perfusionist), Greg Griffin (Chief of Perfusion), Susan Martinelli MD (Anesthesiology), Brian Smith, John Ikonomidis MD (UNC CT Surgeon) (photo credit: UNC Athletics)

The Tribute Read:

“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.”

Read more about the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery and their traditional of excellence in serving the people of North Carolina here .