I saw most of the Italy-Germany game at home but had to skip the overtime to meet Ceci at the cardiac institute where her father had a procedure on Tuesday. (He’s doing fine). Got to the hospital just in time to hear the cheers as Italy won. Suddenly the street was full of cars honking their horns again. Of coure, Argentines were happy to see Germany lose after Germany’s recent defeat of the Argentine team.

The game also reminded me that there are a lot of Italians in Buenos Aires. A lot are like Ceci and have dual citizenship but a lot are like her mother who immigrated here after World War II and remained simply Italian, never obtaining Argentine citizenship; needless to say, she was very happy after the game (and that her husband’s procedure went well).

I wonder: during the Argentina-Germany game did the cardiac institute have to keep an extra close eye on its patients?

Some words about the cardiac institute, Fundación Favaloro: it’s a very nice, modern facility and there’s an interesting history behind the foundation. René Favaloro was one of the foremost heart surgeons in the world. In 1967, at the Cleveland Clinic in the U.S., Favaloro pioneered the coronary artery bypass graft surgery, a procedure that has impacted the lives of millions.


Favaloro returned in 1971 to Argentina from the U.S. to create the first thoracic and cardiovascular center in Buenos Aires. Over the years Favaloro developed Fundación Favaloro, the Universidad Favaloro, and the non-profit Institute of Cardiology and Cardiovascular Surgery.

Sadly, Favaloro committed suicide on July 29, 2000 by shooting himself in the heart.

Favaloro was a strong supporter of universal health care, treating the uninsured and wealthy without discrimination. At the time of his death the foundation was owed millions but also was itself deeply in debt and almost bankrupt. Just before his death, Favaloro wrote a letter to Argentine president Fernando de la Rua pleading for financial assistance to the foundation. I don’t know the full story about the financial problems of the foundation at that time, which undoubtedly were complex, but the foundation has recovered.

In so many ways, Favaloro is a very admirable person…a child from a working class family who became a great surgeon; a man that left behind the immense personal wealth of a medical practice in the U.S. in order to promote healthcare in Latin America; someone who devoted his life to helping others.

If you’re interested in learning more about René Favaloro:

– Fundación Favaloro page about his life (in Spanish)
– A memorial tribute to Favaloro by the Texas Heart Institute is a well-written essay that should inspire anyone, not just medical students.
– An excellent article in the New York Times, Argentina Searches Its Soul Over a Suicide, is particularly poignant considering what happened in Argentina in the years after that article was written, a reminder that the country’s collapse didn’t start in 2001.

Favaloro, isn’t that name Italian? I thought today that I was just going to watch a football game, but I learned about so much more.