Solving problems of the heart … and aorta

Sanford Health vascular surgeon Dr. Patrick Kelly takes unconventional route through engineering to innovate medical devices.

Dr. Patrick Kelly wearing a surgical mask

Patrick Kelly, M.D., is as unconventional as they come. From an early proclivity for thinking outside the box to a detour to the world of engineering, Dr. Kelly was never one to follow the path most traveled. Now he is the executive director of commercialization at Sanford Health Innovations and is leading the charge in finding innovative solutions to medical problems.

A problem solver from the start

When you are the youngest of five, you learn to be resourceful at an early age. Dr. Kelly grew up in South Dakota and loved exploring his rural community. No problem could stand in his way for very long, even a late diagnosis of dyslexia. This instilled a drive to succeed and a determination to not be held back by the expected answer.

He graduated college and started work as a structural engineer. But spending all day behind a desk wasn’t for him. So he enrolled in medical school at the University of South Dakota.

New career, new problems to solve

Dr. Kelly jumped into his new profession as a vascular surgeon and never looked back. When he felt like he was hitting proverbial walls, he searched for new ways to solve problems. While the open surgeries he performed went successfully, patients did not recover as well as he would have liked. Complications were a constant risk hindering recovery, and he decided to create a better solution.

Dr. Kelly began inventing out of necessity, the necessity to provide a better life for his patients. The technology available to him could be better, and an unwavering determination to do more set in. He developed his first of many innovations, the Medtronic Valiant TAAA Stent Graft System, a medical device for previously untreatable thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms that essentially plumbs the entire aorta.

Patients first

The arduous task took years, but Dr. Kelly and his team tackled the problem as he would anything else. He stripped it down to its most basic elements, identifying individual steps and finding solutions for each.

Now, Dr. Kelly is still inventing ways to bring the best care for patients. With him at the helm of Sanford Health Innovations, the team continually works on new ideas. This direct line helps needed innovations get to patients faster.

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Posted In Health Information, Heart, Innovations, Sanford Stories, Vascular

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