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Post Dr Miguel Torner Soler, Cardiologist
Created by John Eipper on 07/16/14 10:52 PM

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Dr Miguel Torner Soler, Cardiologist (Enrique Torner, USA, 07/16/14 10:52 pm)

I wonder if WAIS cardiologists Paul Pitlick and Rodolfo Neirotti ever met my father or know about him. He was 90 when he passed away in 2012. He had been president of the Spanish Society of Cardiology in the 1970s, and traveled all over the world going to conferences delivering papers.

He was internationally recognized and was nominated honorary member of many national and international cardiological societies, including the European Association of Pediatric Cardiology. I am including a professional biography that I wrote to honor him that I sent to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where he sent many patients for heart surgery, just in case any WAISers are interested, especially the our cardiologists.

However, I warn you it's over two pages long. It will be another "post mortem" homage to him. Whether he is a distant relative of WAISer José Ignacio Soler in Venezuela, I doubt it. Soler is a very common surname in Catalonia. Many years ago I worked on the genealogy of the family, and I don't remember seeing that name on the tree.




Dr. Miguel Torner was one of the first pioneers in Spanish and world cardiology. He was born on June 4, 1922, and passed away on September 22 of this year, when he was over 90 years old, after having suffered several strokes and TIAs. Because of his humility, his work has been much better known among scientific circles than in the media. He became a member of the Catalan Royal Academy of Medicine in 1993 with a speech entitled "L'e evolució de la cardiologia en els últims 45 anys" ("The Evolution of Cardiology in the last 45 years"), which was answered by Dr. Joaquim Tornos.

He came from a long and old medical lineage that included important people from the eighteenth century and included his father, a family physician who influenced the way in which he practiced medicine. He inherited from him his high degree of honesty.

He received his bachelor's degree in medicine in 1947, and in 1952 joined Dr. Gibert Queraltó's team in the creation of the first cardiology school in Spain: the School of Cardiology and Angiology of the University of Barcelona. He taught cardiology at this school until 1977, when Dr. Gibert retired. He also taught pathology, pediatric cardiology and therapeutics at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, as well as doctorate courses. However, his true passion was always that of a clinician: seeing patients and teaching students while doing that. As a doctor, he gained a great reputation for his talent in the diagnosis of congenital heart diseases in children through auscultation. His contribution to the field of pediatric cardiology was internationally recognized in London in May of 1974, when he was unanimously named Honorary Member of the European Association of Paediatric Cardiology.

Dr. Torner was a true pioneer in cardiology, and witnessed and participated in the creation of this specialty. The department he helped create with Dr. Gibert Queraltó "was the first center in Spain that practiced the catheterization of the right cavities, and the first in the world to register the electrocardiogram of the left cavities. A left heart arterial catheterization was practiced so as to rule out a possible aneurysm. The catheter easily passed through the aortic valve and for the first time in the world, the left intracavitary potentials were registered in a case of left bundle branch block." Dr. Torner's team "demonstrated the positive electrical potentials within the left ventricle, which had never been done before. These studies were presented during the 1st World Congress of Cardiology held in Paris in 1950, where they attained international prestige." Also, the "correlations between haemodynamics and clinical work culminated in the study of right ventricular hypertrophy in relation to electrocardiographic images, studies presented at the 2nd World Congress of Cardiology held in Washington in 1954. These studies attained world diffusion and gave greater scientific credit to the Escuela de Cardioangiología of Barcelona."

"In the study of congenital heart disease we must point out the work of J. Bret and M. Torner Soler, which deserved publication in the American Heart Journal in 1957. The subject of the article was a case of complete transposition of the great vessels in which, for the first time in the world literature, a double outflow of the left ventricle was mentioned.

"Also important were the publications in the 1957 American Heart Journal on pulmonary valve stenosis, and the 1958 article on the first Spanish case of 'scimitar' syndrome."

An anecdote worth mentioning in Dr. Torner's life is what happened after he participated in the 3rd World Congress of Cardiology held in Brussels in September of 1958. After the conference, he, Dr. Gibert-Queraltó, Ignacio Balaguer, and Arnaldo Casellas were invited by Roger Froment to the homage dedicated to the Nobel Prize winner André Cournand, who won it for his application of catheterization to the heart. The event happened in Lyon, and it proves the high reputation of Dr. Torner and his cardiology team.

Dr. Miguel Torner presided over the Spanish Society of Cardiology from 1971 to 1975. As president, his capacity for dialogue and harmony were his main tools. One of his main goals during his presidency was achieving financial funding to assist the association's members in being able to complete their academic training abroad, as well as to fund activities to promote the internationalization of Spanish cardiology. He then established an agreement between Houston and Madrid, which would include working grants in different US centers and thus provide incentives for Spanish research in cardiology. Dr. Torner was very acquainted with the medical practices of the United States, and had good contacts with their top clinics. Proof of this is that he sent many patients to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester for cardiac surgery. Torner also proposed to nominate as honorary members of the Spanish Society of Cardiology world experts in the field. He also helped create an association for the study of arterial hypertension: The League Against Hypertension. He also participated actively in the Spanish-Italian Symposium on Hypertension, which was held in Barcelona in 1974, and which he co-presided with Dr. C. Bartorelli, president of the Italian League Against Hypertension. Finally, he coordinated the 6th European Congress of Cardiology, held in Madrid in September of 1972. With this event, Spanish cardiology in general and Dr. Torner in particular achieved world recognition. The latter was demonstrated by the fact that Dr. Torner was named foreign member of the cardiology societies of Argentina, Portugal, Italy, Mexico, and France.

As mentioned earlier, however, his greatest passion was mentoring while seeing patients, and he had disciples who were later among the very best cardiologists in the world, like Dr. Antoni Bayés de Luna, who became the president of the World Heart Federation and received innumerable awards, national and international. When the latter was admitted in 1972 to the Royal Academy of Medicine of Catalonia, Dr. Torner read the welcoming speech. His desire to serve--patients and colleagues--and his integrity were exemplary, being admired and loved by everybody he encountered and knew.

JE comments:  An exemplary career, and I'm honored that WAIS can honor Enrique Torner's father.  Dr. Torner was a full generation senior to our colleagues Paul Pitlick and Rodolfo Neirotti, but I wouldn't be surprised if they knew him or at least his work.

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  • Dr Miguel Torner Soler (Rodolfo Neirotti, USA 07/17/14 9:56 PM)

    Although I am a pediatric cardiac surgeon, I have been in close contact with cardiologists. As John E mentioned, Enrique's Torner's father was active before my time, so I didn't know him. I am glad to learn about Dr. Miguel Torner Soler, part of the Golden Era of Spanish medicine.

    JE comments:  Spain had two Nobel Laureates in Medicine, Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1906) and Severo Ochoa (1959).  The latter left during the Civil War and became an American citizen, but he studied at the U of Madrid under Dr Juan Negrín, grandfather of our colleague Carmen Negrín.

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