Dr. Caranasos
Dr. Vavalle

Feb. 8, 2017

Thomas G. Caranasos, M.D., and John P. Vavalle, M.D., M.H.S., are among 10 people from UNC Health Care to be named 2017 “Health Care Heroes” by Triangle Business Journal.

Dr. Caranasos, a cardiac surgeon, is an assistant professor of surgery in the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery and is director of Adult Cardiac Surgery at UNC. He and Dr. Vavalle, a UNC cardiologist, were nominated together for the award. Dr. Vavalle is an assistant professor of medicine in the UNC Division of Cardiology. The two physicians run UNC’s Structural Heart Disease Program – Dr. Caranasos is surgical director and Dr. Vavalle is medical director.

The awards honor Triangle individuals and organizations for putting innovation and compassion to work to improve the human condition.

The nomination letter for Dr. Caranasos and Dr. Vavalle said:

“In 2014, John Vavalle, MD, and Thomas Caranasos, MD, co-founded the UNC Structural Heart program, and jointly perform minimally invasive, catheter based, heart valve procedures. Though they come from different disciplines – Cardiology and Surgery – Vavalle and Caranasos have worked closely since arriving at UNC, jokingly referring to themselves as the “right and left hands” of the same body. Many of the patients they care for are elderly, complex, and considered too high-risk for conventional treatment. Vavalle and Caranasos are universally praised by their patients for their surgical skills, but, more importantly the way they take time with each patient to explain the necessary procedures and treatment options. The TAVR program, which they have built at UNC Medical Center, recently completed its 100th procedure. They have worked tirelessly to build relationships with referring cardiologists throughout the state, and the success of the program is largely due to these efforts.

“Vavalle and Caranasos have worked extensively with anesthesia, nursing, nutrition, and physical therapy to develop a comprehensive Enhanced Recovery After Surgery program which focuses on optimization of nutrition, mobility and education of patients before, during and after surgery to decrease length of and increase patient satisfaction.

“Because of the collaboration and dedication of these two physicians, patients that had little or no hope for relief from their heart problems are able to get treatment and regain their quality of life.”

Read more about the other UNC winners here.