May 01, 2012

Ranjit Aiyagari, MD: Pediatric interventionalist and classic car enthusiast

Ranjit Aiyagari, MD
What do you do at UMHS?

I’m a pediatric interventional and ICU cardiologist, and I practice at the magnificent new C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Our team performs more than 600 cardiac catheterizations per year on children and adults with congenital heart disease, and we provide expert care to children in the pediatric cardiothoracic unit. I also conduct research on improving quality and outcomes in infants undergoing major cardiac procedures, and I help guide the U-M Health System’s strategies on the use and implementation of health information technology.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I enjoy performing, and teaching how to perform, procedures that can save or measurably improve a child’s life. In addition, I particularly enjoy explaining and teaching about heart disease to patients and their families and to our trainees in pediatric cardiology. 

When you’re not working, what do you do?

I try to spend as much time as I can with my wife Stacey, who is a pediatric emergency physician at Mott, and my kids Leela (5) and Jay (2). I am a baseball fan and love to watch and go to games. I love to tinker with computers and learn about their inner workings. I also have a classic car (Porsche 944S2 Cabriolet) that I enjoy taking meticulous care of.

What moment in the clinic stands out as the most memorable?

A couple of months ago, we were consulted about a premature baby with a very rare and complex airway abnormality who was receiving care in Mott’s Brandon Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. He had a common form of heart disease called a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), which means that a fetal vessel had stayed open and needed to be closed. The conventional wisdom is that PDAs in young premature babies require surgery, but I had an idea of how we could close the PDA through a cardiac catheterization. We successfully did the procedure, he left the hospital soon thereafter, and he is now doing well.

Who had the greatest influence on your career path?

When I was in medical school, I had the fortune of being paired with a mentor named Jay Weiner, an internist in private practice in Conn. with more than 40 years of experience. I learned much from him about the art of medicine, which in many ways is much more difficult to grasp than the science.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

My grandfather used to tell me that you should always honor your word because you are only as good as it.

Which three people (living or dead) would you invite to dinner?

Jefferson, Hamilton, and Jay. I loved reading the Federalist Papers and think it would be fascinating to listen to their perspectives on 21st century America.

What or who can’t you live without?

My daily breakfast routine of eating oatmeal with brown sugar while watching ESPN SportsCenter.