World-Renowned Interventional Cardiologist Establishes Structural Heart Disease Research Fund in Honor of Late Wife

February 17, 2021
Dr. William O'Neill and Carol O'Neill

DETROIT (Feb. 17, 2021) – William O’Neill, M.D., director of the Center for Structural Heart Disease at Henry Ford Health System, has donated $1 million to establish the Carol S. O’Neill Structural Heart Disease Research Fund at Henry Ford Health System. This fund, created in honor of Dr. O’Neill’s late wife, Carol, who passed away in 2019, will support and advance research efforts at Henry Ford Health System’s Heart & Vascular Institute.

“As a devoted wife and mother, Carol continuously exuded unconditional love for her family, and she often put the needs of others before her own,” said Dr. O’Neill. “She was a talented nurse, but set that aside to raise our children, Brian, Kate, Julie and Molly. When they were all grown, she returned to nursing, which she loved, as a research nurse in the Structural Heart Disease program at Henry Ford. My kids and I decided to establish the Carol S. O’Neill Structural Heart Disease Research Fund to honor her memory and the research area she was passionate about. This fund is an emblem of the selfless, loving person she was, and it will ultimately help save lives.”

The Heart & Vascular Institute at Henry Ford is a leader and innovator in comprehensive care, research and education, and one of the nation’s largest and most successful heart failure and transplant programs. 

As director of the Center for Structural Heart Disease, which is within the Heart & Vascular Institute, Dr. O’Neill has been at the forefront of many major interventional cardiology advancements, including pioneering the use of angioplasty for the treatment of heart attacks, developing catheter-based treatments for structural heart disease, and leading the National Cardiogenic Shock Initiative to organize new protocols for treating cardiogenic shock, a deadly side-effect of massive heart attacks. Structural heart disease refers to defects or disorders of the heart’s structure that are present at birth or develop later, such as valves that do not open and close properly, narrowing of the passages in the heart, or a hole in the wall between the chambers of the heart.

“As a pioneer in the world of interventional cardiology and structural heart disease, Dr. O’ Neill is an internationally recognized leader and his dedication to helping others cannot be overstated,” said Adnan Munkarah, M.D., chief clinical officer of Henry Ford Health System. “With this gift, he is expanding that impact even further. We are so deeply appreciative of Dr. O’Neill’s many contributions, not only as a prolific clinician and researcher, but now also as a philanthropist committed to advancing a cause that is very near to his and our hearts.”

The advanced research of the Heart & Vascular Institute is strengthened by the support of those who give with the hope of improving the lives of everyone affected by cardiovascular disease.

“We are incredibly grateful for Dr. O’Neill’s generous support of our Edith & Benson Ford Heart & Vascular Institute in honor of his wife, Carol S. O’Neill,” said Mary Jane Vogt, executive vice president and chief development officer at Henry Ford Health System. “The research and innovations of our Heart & Vascular Institute, many of which have been led by Dr. O’Neill himself, have already touched the lives of countless people around the world. Through this gift, that impact will be amplified and honor Carol’s legacy in a way that will greatly benefit generations to come.” 

The Center for Structural Heart Disease treats some of the most complicated cases of structural heart disease and plays a leading role testing new treatment devices and creating new techniques using catheters. Innovations and scientific contributions of the Center for Structural Heart Disease include:

  • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR): Dr. O’Neill performed the first TAVR in the country. In most cases, doctors use the femoral artery near the groin to access the heart for this procedure. But the Henry Ford Structural Heart Disease team has developed techniques to use alternative blood vessels, so more people can benefit. The team also helped develop the BASILICA procedure to make TAVR safer.
  • Transcatheter mitral valve repair (TMVr) or replacement (TMVR): The Henry Ford Structural Heart Disease team participated in trials that helped make minimally invasive repair an option for people who can’t have surgery. The team is now studying additional repair devices, as well as new valves for those who need a full replacement. Learn more about TMVR.
  • Tricuspid valve treatment: Henry Ford Structural Heart Disease team is exploring ways to replace the tricuspid valve without surgery. The Center for Structural Heart Disease is one of the few centers running a clinical trial of catheter-based repair. Learn more about heart valve repair and replacement.
  • Advanced imaging and 3D printing: Henry Ford Center for Structural Heart Disease is known nationally for creating new and better ways to view the heart. It is among the few centers using imaging to create 3D models of the heart for complicated cases. Doctors at the Center for Structural Heart Disease also developed a test to watch for complications during mitral valve replacement.

To learn more about the Center for Structural Heart Disease at Henry Ford Health System, visit henryford.com/services/structural-heart.

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About Henry Ford Health System:
Founded in 1915 by Henry Ford himself, Henry Ford Health System is a non-profit, integrated health system committed to improving people’s lives through excellence in the science and art of healthcare and healing. Henry Ford Health System consists of six hospitals including Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit; Henry Ford Macomb Hospitals; Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital; Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital; Henry Ford Allegiance in Jackson, MI; and Henry Ford Kingswood Hospital – an inpatient psychiatric hospital.

Henry Ford Health System also includes Henry Ford Medical Group; Henry Ford Physician Network; more than 250 outpatient facilities; Henry Ford Pharmacy; Henry Ford OptimEyes; and other healthcare services. Our not-for-profit health plan, Health Alliance Plan (HAP) provides health coverage for more than 540,000 people.

As one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, Henry Ford Health System trains more than 3,000 medical students, residents, and fellows annually in more than 50 accredited programs, and has trained nearly 40% of the state’s physicians. Our dedication to education and research is supported by nearly $100 million in annual grants from the National Institutes of Health and other public and private foundations.

Henry Ford Health System employs more than 33,000 people, including more than 1,600 physicians, more than 6,600 nurses and 5,000 allied health professionals.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jeff Adkins / (586) 307-2027 / [email protected]