The Italian and international medical world is in mourning for the passing of Professor Gaetano Azzolina. Sicilian, who grew up professionally in Palermo, was considered a luminary in cardiac surgery, especially in children: born in 1931 and originally from Riesi, Sicily, but for decades in Lombardy and Bergamo before moving to Liguria, he died at the age of 91 in the embrace of his family members. His funeral will be celebrated privately in Sarzana, La Spezia, where he has lived for some time: he leaves behind his wife and daughter in grief.
An unrepeatable career
His was a once-in-a-lifetime career. After graduating in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Palermo in 1955, he immediately moved to the United States to carry out a series of important “training” courses in General Surgery (at the De Paul Hospital in Saint Louis, Missouri, from 1956 to 1958) and in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery from 1958 to 1965 (at Saint Paul Hospital, Baylor University Medical Center, and Parkland Memorial Hospital, all in Dallas, Texas).
Back in Italy, together with his colleague Lucio Parenzan, another unforgotten luminary, he started the cardiac surgery and instrumental cardiac surgery departments at the Maggiore hospital in Bergamo, where he remained until 1967: later he was in service at the Gavazzeni Clinics, where between 1967 and in 1970 he set up the first private center for instrumental cardiodiagnostics and pediatric and adult heart surgery in Europe. In the seventies he moved to the hospital of Massa, in Tuscany, where he was head of cardiac surgery until 1990. He was also a professor at the University of Pisa and a member of parliament (from 1990 to 1992) for the Radical Party.