Kurt Anton Amplatz of North Oaks, Minnesota | 1924 – 2019 | Obituary

Born in Weistrach, Lower Austria on February 25, 1924 and died November 6, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Kurt attended elementary school in Senftenberg and high school in Innsbruck, Austria. He obtained his medical degree from the University of Innsbruck in 1950. After completing his internship at the Krankenhaus St. Poelten he immigrated to the United States for another internship at Saint John’s Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. Following a radiology residency at Wayne State University School of Medical (Detroit Receiving), he joined the radiology faculty at the University of Minnesota in 1957. He remained there until he retired in 1999. Dr. Amplatz is truly one of the great pioneers in Adult and Pediatric Cardiology and Interventional Radiology. Besides publishing hundreds of scientific papers, book chapters and books and creating a multitude of medical devices, he trained generations of cardiologists and interventional radiologists who then went on to their own careers becoming renowned scientists, teachers, inventors and chairmen of radiology departments nationally and internationally, thereby enhancing the wellbeing of thousands of patients throughout the world. Dr. Amplatz’s creative genius did not stop with his retirement. He went on to found the AGA company in 1995 which most notably produced catheter based devices to treat infants and children born with life threatening heart defects replacing the more traditional and often risky surgical repairs. After AGA was acquired by St. Jude Medical in 2010, Dr. Amplatz started another medical device company, KA Medical, which continues today. He has devoted his life for the betterment of mankind. He will be sorely missed by the medical community as well as by people at large. His legacy will live on for many decades to come. Dr. Amplatz is survived by his four children, Curtis, Ria (Maria), Grace and Caroline Amplatz; grandchildren, Alexandra, Nicolas and Anton Gougeon; and long-term partner, Marianne Schulze. He was preceded in death by his parents, Dr. Anton and Maria Amplatz and sister, Maria Lampl of Austria; and his wife, Maxine. A celebration of Kurt’s life will be held next summer. Memorials may be directed to: Kurt Amplatz Pediatric Cardiology Research Fund, #23271, University of Minnesota Foundation, PO Box 860266, Minneapolis MN 55486 or The Nature Conservancy MN, 1101 West River Pkwy, #200, Minneapolis MN 55415.

Dr. Kurt Amplatz, pioneering Minnesota inventor of treatment tools, dies at 95

In 1952, doctors at the University of Minnesota completed the first successful open-heart surgery procedure as they operated on a young girl to repair a hole in her heart. Years later, a physician in the Twin Cities named Kurt Amplatz developed technology for treating that same pediatric heart condition, but in a much less invasive way. Amplatz created a medical device that could be scrunched to a size small enough to fit inside a specialized medical tube called a catheter. Doctors pass this tube through a small incision in a patient’s leg all the way to the heart, and then pass the plug-shaped device through the catheter to fill the hole. The invention lets doctors repair serious heart defects in children without major surgery. Amplatz, 95, died Nov. 6. Doctors say the „occlusion“ devices exemplify the pioneering role Amplatz played in developing a new approach to treating heart ailments. „He’s a major reason that Minnesota is known for innovation in treatment of structural heart disease,“ said Dr. John Bass, a pediatric cardiologist at the University of Minnesota. „There are so many more children now who don’t have to have surgery because they have a device that can be put in through a catheter.“ Kurt Anton Amplatz was born in Austria in 1924. He attended medical school in his native country but believed he would have more opportunities to innovate in the U.S. medical system, said daughter Grace Amplatz.

Amplatz joined the radiology faculty at the University of Minnesota in 1957 and stayed there until he retired in 1999. The U was pioneering treatments in open-heart surgery at the time, and Amplatz contributed in the 1960s by developing imaging technology to outline the anatomy of the heart, said Dr. David Hunter, a longtime radiologist at university who retired this summer. As time passed, Amplatz was among a select group of doctors who developed a new field called „interventional radiology,“ where doctors used imaging equipment to look inside the body while simultaneously deploying medical devices through catheters to provide treatments. Amplatz’s genius was in devising the tools, Hunter said, that doctors would need for these procedures. During his time at the U, Amplatz is credited with inventing lifesaving tools and procedures ranging from catheters and guide wires to snares and dilators that are still being used around the world. After he left the U, Amplatz created a company called AGA Medical that developed the devices to repair congenital heart defects in children. The occlusion devices repair „septal“ defects, meaning holes in the heart walls that divide the heart into four chambers. Left untreated, the holes lead to blood pressure problems that prove fatal over time. „His greatest contribution to the health of this globe was his development of a safe, easily delivered, easy to monitor, accurate and safe technology for plugging up septal defects,“ Hunter said. „That’s where really there are probably millions of people around the globe that owe their life or well-being to Kurt’s inventions.“ AGA Medical was acquired in 2010 by Little Canada-based St. Jude Medical, which has since been purchased by Abbott Laboratories. Amplatz went on to start another medical device company that continues to this day. The U’s pediatric hospital was named for Amplatz from 2009 to 2014 after a $50 million gift from his daughter Caroline. The name went away after she permitted the U to offer naming rights for the hospital to another benefactor. In addition to Caroline and Grace, survivors include two other children, Curtis and Ria (Maria); three grandchildren and longtime partner Marianne Schulze. A celebration of his life will be held next summer. Christopher Snowbeck covers health insurers, including Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group, and the business of running hospitals and clinics.

Kurt Anton Amplatz (1924 – 2019)

The ESR is sad to report that Professor Kurt Anton Amplatz, one of the great pioneers in Adult and Paediatric Cardiology and Interventional Radiology, has passed away on November 6, 2019, in his 95th year of life. Prof. Amplatz has published hundreds of scientific papers, book chapters and books, while teaching and training generations of cardiologists and interventional radiologists. He was also awarded the Gold Medal of the European Congress of Radiology and the European Association of Radiology in the year 2000. The impact that Prof. Amplatz has created in his field is paramount and his creative genius certainly did not stop with his retirement. In 1995 he founded the AGA company which produced catheter based devices to treat infants and children born with life threatening heart defects and after the acquisition of AGA, Prof. Amplatz started another medical device company, KA Medical, which continues today. He will be dearly missed by his colleagues and friends.