Aidan R. Raney, MD, still remembers the first procedure he performed at
Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian. “The first case is always a big one; this was a tough case in a
new place with a lot of stress,” he says. Fortunately for him, he
had someone in the room with him who was a steadying source of encouragement—his dad.
Dr. Raney’s father –
Aidan A. Raney, MD – is an esteemed cardiothoracic surgeon at Hoag, the program director
of Hoag’s Cardiovascular Surgical Services, surgical director of
Hoag Heart Valve Center and the James & Pamela Muzzy Endowed Chair
in Cardiovascular Surgery. He wasn’t present during his son’s
first case just for moral support – father and son were collaborating
on a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), an alternative procedure
for patients who can’t withstand the rigors of open-heart surgery.
TAVR procedures require that a cardiologist and a heart surgeon work together.
“It was great to have my dad there; he was level-headed and very
calm,” Dr. Raney says. “I knew I was well-trained and could
do it, but it set up a good environment for me and everything went well.”
Dr. Raney’s dad says it’s a great experience working with his
son. “He’s very talented and gifted, and I’m grateful
that’s the case. I’m impressed; I think he does a great job,”
he says, adding with a laugh, “And I’m not saying that just
because he’s my son.”
A board-certified cardiologist, the younger Dr. Raney is affiliated with
both Hoag and
St. Joseph Hospital, Orange, and has an outpatient clinic at
St. Joseph Heritage Medical Group, all part of the
St. Joseph Hoag Health network of care. He is the medical director of the Structural Heart Disease
Program at St. Joseph Hospital and specializes in interventional cardiology
procedures, such as TAVR.
He estimates he’s completed about 100 since finishing his medical
training—and in about 10 of those cases, patients have benefitted
from the expertise of father and son. Hoag was the first hospital in Orange
County to offer TAVR, which began in 2012, allowing Dr. Aidan R. Raney
to work alongside and learn from his father Dr. Aidan A. Raney, who was
the first in Orange County to perform the TAVR procedure.
But when it came to his career path, Dr. Raney didn’t immediately
follow in his father’s footsteps. Although he had gone on rounds
with his dad and observed some of his surgeries while he was growing up,
he went to medical school after a stint at E-Trade that left him feeling
unfulfilled professionally. After graduating from George Washington University
School of Medicine, he trained in cardiology and internal medicine at
University of California, Irvine.
For his part, Dr. Raney, the surgeon, says he didn’t try to push
his son toward a career in medicine. “My dad was a neurosurgeon
as well, so Aidan comes from a lineage of medical specialists,”
says Dr. Raney, who completed medical school at USC and residencies at
Stanford. “My father never suggested to me in any way to be a physician,
and I did the same thing with my kids. Ultimately I wanted my children
to be fulfilled. When Aidan decided to go to medical school I was happy
for him—it’s a wonderful profession with a tremendous opportunity
to make a big difference in people’s lives.”
The fact that father and son can work together to change lives is due to
“a lot of luck,” Dr. Raney, the son, says. When he finished
his medical training, there was an opportunity to work at Hoag, whose
Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart & Vascular Institute was the first to offer
TAVR in Orange County. His father was already at Hoag, having arrived
there in 1987 from Sharp Hospital in San Diego when he was offered the
opportunity to run Hoag’s cardiac transplant/heart surgery program.
While Dr. Raney, the son, now performs most of his procedures at St. Joseph
Hospital, he still gets to work with his father on certain cases at Hoag;
currently, they have a patient preparing to enter a clinical trial there.
“Working together is a unique opportunity because of the programs
at Hoag and St. Joseph Hospital—I wouldn’t have been able
to work with my dad if we had been at any other hospitals,” Dr.
The two Raneys are in frequent contact. Because TAVR is also offered to
patients referred by Mission Hospital and St. Jude Medical Center, as
well as those at Hoag and St. Joseph Hospital, they participate in a teleconference
call with physicians from all the hospitals every week.
Father and son do try to limit the shop talk at family gatherings—although
with six Raney siblings and all of their kids, there’s not a lot
of time to discuss work.
Having two Dr. Raneys around Hoag hasn’t caused as much confusion
as you might think.
“Sometimes people come to see me but they are looking for him,”
the younger Dr. Raney says. “They say, ‘You’re younger
than I thought you would be.’ And some people who know us both say,
‘You look like your dad, but about a foot taller.’”
“But at home, even though he’s a foot taller, he’s still
little Aidan and I’m Dad,” his father adds.
Both father and son say they’ve benefitted from their professional
collaboration. “I’ve learned a lot in terms of my approach
to patients,” Dr. Raney, the son, says. “He’s taught
me to approach cases with a lot of careful planning; I don’t just
run in without a plan ahead of time. His relationships with his patients
are great. Everyone likes him, everyone knows Dr. Raney. He’s very
professional and friendly.”
“He’s trying to teach me we won’t need heart surgeons
anymore; he’s smarter than I am because [minimally invasive interventional
procedures] are the future,” Dr. Raney, the father, says. “Medicine
is a very challenging and interesting profession and we’re always
learning and trying to do what’s best for the patient. I’m
happy we both work together on these problems and challenges. Mutual respect
is the overbearing sentiment I feel. I’m proud he is a physician—he’s
a good doctor dedicated to patient care and he’s very skilled with
Dr. Raney has his own special memory of that first procedure he did with
his son. Sitting on the desk in his library at home is a photo someone
took of father and son that day.
“I never would have imagined that would happen, getting to work with
him,” he says. “It was a very special day.”