About Us

Our Practice is Founded on Progressive Surgery Techniques

We are dedicated to providing our patients with the best care possible, beginning with your initial consultation and ending with your last post-operative check-up. Cardio-Thoracic Surgeons, P.C. set a standard by bringing open heart surgery to Alabama. We want to build on that standard by providing patients with the most trusted cardiovascular and thoracic surgeons in the state.

Our Foundation:

Cardio-Thoracic Surgeons P.C. was founded in 1945 by Dr. Charles J. Donald upon his completion of special thoracic surgery training at Mayo Clinic. Dr. Donald and Dr. O. W. Clayton, who joined him in 1952, adopted and implemented new and progressive surgery techniques for treating heart and lung disease. Prior to the availability of open heart surgery they did many closed mitral commissurotomies on patients who had rheumatic mitral stenosis.

Why are we a leader in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery in the Southeast?

At Cardio-Thoracic Surgeons we have built this history and continued to train and advance our knowledge. Did you know we were:

  • The first to perform Alabama’s first private-practice open heart surgery in 1968 shortly after Dr. Thomas A.S. Wilson and later Dr. Austen L. Bennett, III joined the group in 1967. Since that time, the group has established open heart surgery programs at other hospitals in Alabama, including Brookwood Medical Center, St. Vincent’s East (formerly Medical Center East) and St. Vincent’s Birmingham and has performed more than 50,000 open heart surgery procedures, vascular operations and thoracic or lung operations.
  • Alabama’s first minimally invasive robotic heart surgery for mitral valve repair and we are the only surgical practice in the southeast offering a non sternotomy minimally invasive aortice valve replacement.
  • We are also the only cardiovascular practice in Alabama or the southeast offering a complete Minimally Invasive Surgical Program and have to date done more than 1,000 minimally invasive cardiac operations, thousands of minimally invasive lung operations and are one of only two programs in Alabama offering stented endograft treatment of Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms.

Staying on the Cutting Edge of Surgical Developments

While heart surgery continues to be a prominent part of the practice, the group is just as interested in maintaining and developing new skills to stay on the cutting edge of developments in vascular surgery, pulmonary surgery and surgery of the esophagus. Cardio-Thoracic Surgeons was also in the forefront of introducing vascular surgery of the extremities, carotid surgery for stroke prevention, aneurysm surgery, pacemaker and defibrillation implantation to the community. We are currently the only practice in the state of Alabama performing minimally invasive robotic heart surgery for mitral valve repair and some one vessel bypass surgery.

Cardio-Thoracic-Group-ImageOur Team

Cardio-Thoracic Surgeons P.C. currently includes six board certified thoracic surgeons led by John L. Harlan, M.D., F.A.C.S., President. In order to provide our patients with the best service possible, we take great pride in our staff. From the receptionist to the operating room, our team makes sure that each patient and their family is our highest priority.