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Last night in Madrid Dr. José María Caralps, who performed the first heart transplant in Spain and who currently serves as director of the Cardiac Surgery Service at Hospital Quirón, in Barcelona, was awarded this year’s Spanish Federation of Healthcare Technology Companies (Fenin) Prize in recognition of his contributions to healthcare technology. He was given the Prize by Spanish Minister of Health, Social Policy and Equality Leire Pajín.

The Fenin Prize for Healthcare Technology Innovation celebrates the work of healthcare professionals that strive to achieve excellence in the health care system through use of innovative healthcare technology in their daily work.

In 1984 Dr. Caralps performed Spain’s first heart transplant, at Hospital de Sant Pau, in Barcelona. Over the following decade, he directed more than a hundred heart transplant surgeries and assisted in over another hundred cases. “Dr. Caralps’ initiative was crucial to the development of cardiovascular surgery in our country and to (our) positioning at the global vanguard of organ transplants, facilitating the path to combined organ transplants", affirmed Margarita Alfonsel, general secretary of Fenin and board secretary of the Fundación Tecnología y Salud.

Dr. Caralps will use the prize money to fund two new innovative cardiology research projects. The first, directed by Dr. Josep Maria Alegret, of the Cardiology Service at Hospital Sant Joan de Reus (Tarragona), is aimed at improving the efficiency of aortic valves. In the second project, directed by Dr. Toni Bayés-Genís, head of Cardiology at Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol, researchers will analyze the capacity of cardiac adipose tissue-derived human progenitor cells (ATDHPCs) to regenerate damaged heart tissue.

According to Dr. Caralps, these two projects point to the future of cardiac surgery, which, until the study on the potential of stem cells is completed, “will be dictated by endoscopic surgery, implantation of ever-improved valves, minimally-invasive surgery, and the generalization of coronary bypasses that do not require extracorporeal circulation.”

In related news, the Jesús Usón Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery received the 2010 Fundación Tecnología y Salud Prize for its contributions to health technology R&D projects. Similar prizes were also awarded to Down España, for Best Charity Organization, and A tu salud, a supplement published by newspaper La Razón, for Best Medical Reporting in the Media.

Fenin, created in 1977, encompasses some 500 manufacturers and distributors that together represent more than 80% of the Spanish healthcare technology market.


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