Know the Signs, Fight for Victory

St. Louis Luminaries Set to Celebrate Milestone 15th Heartworks Gala

The Braverman family smiling

“What started as an idea 16 years ago has led to one of the most impactful fundraisers supporting The Marfan Foundation.”

In a joint statement, husband and wife co-founders of the St. Louis Heartworks Gala, Dr. Alan Braverman and Mrs. Rebecca Braverman, took a moment to reflect on the event as its 15th anniversary approaches on April 27th. The Bravermans said Heartworks is meaningful to them for so many reasons.

“Our gala provides awareness of the incredible work of The Marfan Foundation and raises important funds for the Foundation’s programs that improve the lives of people with genetic aortic conditions.  The gala brings together our loyal supporters that include a community of friends, colleagues, and affected individuals and their families for an evening of celebration,” said the Bravermans.

Dr. Sanjeev Bhalla, MD a professor of radiology at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology (MIR) within Washington University School of Medicine, and Hero with a Heart honoree last year, described the impact of the Heartworks gala for him.

“For over 20 years, I have dedicated my career to the radiology of the aorta and aortic conditions. The Heartworks St. Louis Gala is a great opportunity to bring together the whole community of people who want to make a difference in the care of patients with aortic and vascular conditions,” said Bhalla.

For Alan Braverman, highlighting the impactful work of The Marfan Foundation to support community members living with Marfan and related conditions is primary.

“While we honor heroes in medicine, research, volunteerism and philanthropy in a heartfelt and meaningful event, the funds raised at our Gala directly support the many critical functions of The Foundations in education, research, and awareness.”

This year, two physicians are being honored: Dr. John Westley “Wes” Ohman and Dr. Luis A. Sanchez, both for their outstanding work in treating patients living with genetic aortic and vascular conditions.

Dr. J. Westley "Wes" Ohman
Dr. J. Westley “Wes” Ohman

Dr. Ohman is Associate Professor and Program Director for the Integrated Vascular Surgery Residency in the Section of Vascular Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine. He’s a member of the Society for Vascular Surgery, Midwestern Vascular Surgery, and Vascular and Endovascular Surgery Society. His research interests include treatment of complex aortic diseases, surgical care, and behavior of the thoracoabdominal aorta after aortic dissection in individuals with genetically triggered aortic syndromes like Marfan, Loeys-Dietz, and VEDS. Dr. Ohman’s clinical interests likewise include treating people with genetic aortic and vascular conditions surgically.

Dr. Luis A. Sanchez

Dr. Sanchez has been the Chief of the Section of Vascular Surgery since 2011 and Professor of Surgery and Radiology at Washington University School of Medicine since 2006. He has been Co-Director of the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Heart and Vascular Center since 2011 and the Chairman of the WUSM Conflict of interest Committee since 2021. Additionally, he is Vascular Surgery Director at BJH and Missouri Baptist Hospitals. Dr. Sanchez has been President of the International Society of Spanish Speaking Vascular Surgeons and in 2017 received the Dr. Mario Garcia Palmieri Global Education Award at the 8th NACET Interdisciplinary Summit. 

In addition to building and celebrating community, the gala aims to save and improve lives by raising $350K to benefit the Foundation’s research, education, and support initiatives. While the gala has a long-standing history, new supporters enhance the impact of the event every year.

“For first-time attendees, we welcome you into The Marfan Foundation family and appreciate your interest in this most impactful organization dedicated to improving the lives of affected individuals and their families,” said the Bravermans.

Dr. Bhalla summarized the feeling the event leaves with supporters who attend, “You go into the dinner thinking you are making a change and when you leave, you realize you have been changed by the kindness and compassion of the patients, their families, the physicians and scientists working with the foundation,” said Bhalla.

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The Marfan Foundation is a nonprofit organization that saves lives and improves the quality of life of individuals with genetic aortic and vascular conditions including Marfan, Loeys-Dietz, and Vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndromes. Our vision is a world in which everyone with genetic aortic and vascular conditions can live their best life.

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