Dr. Stephen Large – Hero of Donation after Cardiac Death (DCD) Programme


Dr. Stephen Large is an established cardiothoracic surgeon in England. As a child, he wanted to become a veterinarian, however, his mother emphasized that he chooses the field of medicine.

“I wanted to be a vet following my passion for exotic pets as a kid in Northern Rhodesia. My influential and equally exotic mother, a 1940s Slade graduate oil portrait painter, suggested that I do human medicine.” 

Dr. Stephen Large

In 1976, Dr. Large graduated with a degree in medicine and surgery from Guy’s Hospital, London University. Later during the same year, he obtained the Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians and Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons. In 1980 Dr. Large became a member of the Physicians College. He did his fellowship from the English College of Surgeons in 1997 and R.C.P. in 2000. He has also worked as a specialist advisor at Health Technology Advisory Interventional Group. Moreover, he was the lead and chief investigator of ETTAA, principal investigator of QUACS and tied up in RECOVER 1 & 2. In addition to all, he has worked as a Special Advisor to IPAC – NICE, associate Lecturer and Sub-Dean of the University’s medical school. 

Revolutionizing Cardiothoracic Surgery

Dr. Stephen Large has made impressive contributions to the field of cardiac surgery, especially in heart transplantation. To this date, he is one of the best in his speciality and continues to excel at a remarkable pace, revolutionizing cardiothoracic surgery. 

“The job has transformed since I started 33 years ago. Back then it was simple surgery with high volume with no time for anything else.”

Dr. Stephen Large

Dr. Stephen Large finds his speciality very rewarding. After over thirty years, he has come a long way. He started as a consultant cardiothoracic and heart transplant surgeon in September 1989 and even after so many years, Dr. Large is passionate about his job. When he was asked about it, he said:

“I think being fulfilled by the job in a very young sub-speciality which was very open to constructive criticism and through this came the recruitment of atrial fibrillation surgery to the UK (1993) and a national programme of cardiac mechanical assist (2001). These series of events has been very rewarding.”

Dr. Stephen Large

Going Beyond Heart Transplants

Donation after Cardiac Death (DCD) began in 2004 and 11 years later, the programme began in the UK.

“What fascinates me the most about heart transplantation is the extraordinary success in both prognosis and quality of life in people who are close to giving up hope of a solution to the crippling effects induced by heart failure. However, I’m still being appalled by the clumsiness of it all, realising that its success is strangely its worst attribute in that there has been no challenge to heart transplantation (but for mechanical assist) over its 54 years of reality. This is a stimulus to encourage and develop a programme of heart repair rather than a replacement that is my current driver.”

Dr. Stephen Large

Dr. Stephen’s Plan before Retirement

Dr. Stephen Large

Dr. Stephen Large has received tremendous awards during his career, which are, the Hilton Dissection Prize 1972, Beaney Pathology 1973, Innovations East prize 2009, Medical Futures Prize 2011, Innovation Award Papworth 2014, and Life-time achievement award Papworth 2015. Furthermore, he recently received the NHS-Hero award in May 2018. Even after all these awards, his dedication towards achieving more continues. He has no plans of retiring and wants to continue working for his field as long as he can. 

“I still want to achieve a reliable programme of heart repair. We’ve been into this wonderful space with 4 iron overload patients (3 haemochromatoses and 1 thalassaemia patient), 2 with acute myocarditis, one tachycardiomyopathy and possibly 5 with alcohol-related heart failure. In all we removed the driver of failure. We completely reversed and remodelled  their hearts reflecting so powerfully on  the clumsiness of transplantation.”

Dr. Stephen Large

Digging the “Why” in Medical Journey

Dr. Stephen Large’s professional experience in cardiothoracic surgery is extensive. Apart from his career, he happily shares his experiences with the next generation. Dr. Large believes in knowing the main reason behind every medical case or disease. Therefore, he encourages medical students to always find an explanation for everything in the field of medicine.

“Never stop asking “why”. In my opinion, it is the most important question in medicine.”

Dr. Stephen Large

Repair, don’t replace – Heart and Relationships, both

According to him, young doctors who are entering the medical world today are ready to revolutionize it tomorrow. Dr. Stephen Large gives the following advice to doctors for their personal and professional development.

“Repair. Don’t replace it. This goes for relationships too! Do find that work-life balance as well, that I have not done so very well with.”

Dr. Stephen Large

Dr. Stephen Large, the author of 271 peer-reviewed papers aims to reduce the gap between the demand and supply of donor’s hearts for patients with severe, drug-resistant heart failure.


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