Steve Anderson is a man of many interests and talents. We highlight his story because of the revolutionary changes that he brought to the heart transplant field. Steve founded the public company, CryoLife, Inc., the “first biomedical company to specialize in the low-temperature preservation of human heart valves used for complex cardiac reconstruction, primarily in children born with heart defects.”* The innovations that were pioneered at CryoLife made organ donation more comprehensive and improved outcomes for many children born with heart defects and for adults with heart disease.
Today, “CryoLife, Inc. is one of the world’s leading contemporary medical device companies, providing preserved human cardiac and vascular tissues, surgical adhesives and sealants, prosthetic heart valves, cardiac lasers, and other medical devices. Since the company’s inception in 1984, it is estimated that its products and tissues have helped over 1,000,000 patients worldwide."*
On the occasion of Steve’s retirement from CryoLife in 2015, J. Patrick Mackin, the company’s President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board, said this: "Steve is a rare entrepreneur who started the company on his kitchen table in 1984, saw it through a public offering in 1993, and continued to lead it after it was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Few people have the skills and energy to work effectively in those very different environments over a 30-year period. Steve's biggest contribution is the impact the company's technologies have had on millions of cardiac and vascular patients around the world whose lives have been improved by the company he started.”*
As Steve describes it, the launch of his company at a medical conference was surprising. Highly-trained cardiac surgeons stood in line to discuss the new technology that CryoLife offered. Many had studied in England and already had the skills required to perform delicate reconstructive heart surgery on adults, children, and newborns. The doctors were eager to help their patients, and CryoLife had taken the complex process of preserving life-saving donated organs to a new level. CryoLife was at the forefront of the exciting field of biotechnology.
LifeLink of Florida is a not-for-profit tissue bank and organ donation company located in Tampa that uses CryoLife’s technology for the benefit of patients who need transplantation therapy. LifeLink Tissue Bank has been serving patients, physicians, and donor families since 1985, describing itself as “part of the important chain that changes lives” — a chain that begins with voluntary organ and tissue donations.
For more information, visit: LifeLinkFoundation.org
On a personal note: Steve grew up in Minnesota and attended the University of Minnesota where he chose to sit next to a "pretty blonde" during Philosophy class. Her name is Ann. It is easy to understand how he charmed his way to becoming her husband. Ann is the author of our Pet of the Month Column. She and Steve make a great team.
Thank you, Ann and Steve, for your generosity in sharing your story.