August 3, 2008

Shadyside Surgeon’s Invention Improved Patients’ Lives

By Jerry Vondas, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Aug. 3--Funeral services for Dr. Brack G. Hattler, a respected lung transplant surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, are scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday in Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Amberson at Westminster Place.

Dr. Hattler, a resident of Shadyside, drowned Thursday, July 31, 2008, while vacationing with his family in New Jersey. He was 73. Dr. Hattler was the Katherine DuRoss Ford Chair of Cardiothoracic Transplantation and Professor of Surgery, Division of Cardiac Surgery at UPMC.

"If wisdom is knowing the right path to take, and integrity is taking it, that's what Brack did," said Dr. Bill Futrell, a plastic surgeon from Fox Chapel, about his friend and colleague.

"Brack was extremely intelligent, competitive and a man of integrity, he often said that he'd rather burn out than rust out."

Dr. Hattler hiked up and down the Grand Canyon while on crutches; climbed both Mount Everest and Kilimanjaro and participated in a bull fight in Monterey, Mexico.

"His name may never be etched on a lot of monuments, but his name will be etched in the hearts of the many people he touched both professionally and personally," said Dr. Futrell.

Prior to his arrival at UPMC in 1989, Dr. Hattler developed and patented an intravenous membrane oxygenator, a lifesaving lung catheter he saw as a new form of therapy in the treatment of reversible lung injury. The Hattler Catheter helps patients avoid the complications associated with mechanical ventilators.

Born in New York City and raised in Panama, Brack Hattler was one of three children in the family of Brack and Isabel Hattler. His father was a General Motors representative for Central America.

Dr. Hattler attended the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn.; earned his undergraduate degree from Duke University and his medical degree from Cornell University.

Dr. Hattler spent three years at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington as the chief of Army's Organ Transplant Services.

"My father was a compassionate doctor who cared for his patients," said his son, Dr. Brack Hattler Jr., a cardiologist from Denver. "He had such confidence and was so proficient in what he did, that he was never afraid to take on a difficult case."

"He was also a caring father, a true gentleman and a Republican," his son added.

Dr. Hattler and his wife, Jean Anne Hattler, a member of the board of Crossroads, an organization that provides at-risk youth with the support they need to become active, intelligent and contributing members of society, would load up with Christmas and Hanukah gifts and pass them out to the patients on Christmas Day.

"Dad always volunteered to work on Christmas Day so the other doctors could be home with their families," his son added.

Dr. Hattler was also admired for his dedication to the Shadyside community.

"Dr. Hattler involved himself in numerous community projects," said the Rev. Dr. Craig Barnes, senior minister of Shadyside Presbyterian Church. "We at Shadyside Presbyterian considered him as an extended member of our church family."

In addition to his son, Brack, Dr. Hattler is survived by his wife, Jean Anne Shelton Hattler; sons, Richard Hattler of Asheville, N.C. and Mark Hattler of Burlington, Vt.; a daughter, Michelle Sherry of Telluride, Col. and nine grandchildren.

He is also survived by a brother, Richard Hattler of North Carolina and a sister, Patricia Schultz of Farmington, Conn.

Visitation is from 3 to 8 p.m. Monday at John A. Freyvogel Sons Inc., Funeral Home, Devonshire Street at Centre Avenue in Oakland.


To see more of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to

Copyright (c) 2008, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

For reprints, email [email protected], call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.