Dr. Daniel Martínez comes from humble beginnings like many people
of the Rio Grande Valley, but that did not stop his high aspirations to
become a heart surgeon.
Dr. Martinez is a board certified cardiovascular surgeon who has an active
surgical practice at RGV Heart Surgeons in Harlingen, Texas. He is an
active member of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the Society
of Thoracic Surgeons (STS). Dr. Martínez relocated to Harlingen,
TX in early 2007.
Dr. Martínez was born in San Juan, Texas to Alberto and Maria Martinez.
Both of his parents are from Mexico and did not have a formal education.
His mom came to the United States, earned her General Education Diploma
(GED), and became a U.S. citizen. She worked as a migrant counselor for
a school district. “It was through very hard work and dedication
that she got that position.” His father was an automobile mechanic
and still enjoys working on cars today. Both of his parents worked hard
to provide for their four children and raised them in a Christian home.
He attributes his strong work ethics and morals to the example set by
Dr. Martinez’ life has changed 180 degrees all because of his determination
to get a good education and be a part of the medical profession. Today,
he is a renowned thoracic surgeon that provides the latest surgical treatment
in the field of heart surgery for the people of the Rio Grande Valley.
Dr. Martinez grew up in Edinburg during his younger years and then moved
to Pharr to attend Buckner Elementary and LBJ Junior High. He graduated
from Pharr San Juan Alamo High School in 1985 and then graduated cum laude
from Pan American University in 1989.” He said, “I graduated
from the University of Iowa, Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine
in 1993.” He also served in the Army Reserves for 18 years and was
honorable discharged in 2002 as a Major.
He completed his General Surgery residency at Louisiana State University
Health Science Center in Shreveport (LSUHSC-S) in 1999 under the chairmanship
and organ transplant pioneer, Dr. John C. McDonald.
Dr. Martínez completed a Cardiothoracic Surgery Fellowship at Wake
Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. in 2001
under the Chairmanship of Dr. Neal Kon, a renowned surgeon with expertise
in heart valve surgery.
In 2001, Dr. Martínez accepted a faculty position as an Assistant
Professor of Surgery at LSUHSC- Shreveport. In August of 2002, Dr. Martínez
traveled to the southern region of China on a two-week medical mission
performing pediatric congenital heart surgeries. He was invited by a trauma
colleague, Dr. Lou Smith, to join a group of the Church of Christ with
a plan of doing pediatric surgery. He said, “We were not guaranteed
to do them, but we traveled to a very remote area of China. It was exciting
and we did about 10 to 12 pediatric operations.” The patients were
from ages two months to five years. “I went because I have always
had an interest in congenital heart surgery.”
During his tenure at LSUHSC-Shreveport, he took a sabbatical to complete
a fellowship in Congenital Heart Surgery at the University of California
at San Francisco. At LSUHSC-Shreveport, Dr. Martínez instituted
the first Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) in a newborn. ECMO
is an important treatment for cardiorespiratory failure in infants and
children. ECMO is the use of an artificial lung (membrane) located outside
the body (extracorporeal), that adds oxygen in the blood and this blood
then carries the oxygen to the body tissues (oxygenation).
In 2004, he accepted a faculty position in the Division of Cardiothoracic
Surgery at The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio
under the auspices of Dr. John Calhoon.
It is important to say that in June 2009, Dr. Martínez performed
the first pediatric open heart surgery to repair a heart defect at Rio
Grande Regional Hospital. He also brought the Extra Corporeal Membrane
Oxygenation (ECMO) technology to the Valley.
Dr. Martínez told Mega Doctor News that he remembers that ever since
he was a child in grade school he wanted to be a doctor. He said, “As
I was growing up, my family had no health insurance, so we visited a family
doctor in Reynosa, Mexico." He continued, "I noticed the way
the doctor treated us, and he was one of my first role models.”
After embarking on the long journey of studies and training, a doctor usually
stays in other communities and doesn’t even consider coming back
to their hometown to set a medical practice. This was not the case for
Dr. Martínez. “When I was attending medical school for my
residency I used to come to the Rio Grande Valley and visit, and I saw
the rapid growth in the Valley, and especially in the medical field."
He said, "I saw the need for physicians so that part attracted me
to come back home. I know there’s a real need for more doctors here."
Today, when he is in action, about 50 other professionals interact with
him to save lives. He said that cardiac surgery involves multiple disciplines,
first a cardiologist for the initial evaluation. “They are the ones
who initiate the work of tests and if the patient needs surgical intervention
that’s when I get called.”
The heart team of professionals includes assistants, nurses, operating
technicians, perfusionists, and the anesthesiologist. He added, “A
cardiovascular perfusionist is a specialized healthcare professional in
charge of the heart-lung machine during cardiac surgery in order to perform
the operation on the patient.”
He pointed out that after the procedure a team of ICU nurses, whose responsibility
it is to care for the patient, have a very important role in the patients
post operative recovery.
“We also have case managers to help transition patients from the
hospital to their home or rehab,” he said.
His opinion of technology is that it should improve patient safety and
outcomes. “We do pretty complex operations with an excellent success
rate.” He said, “Cardiac surgery is still considered a complex
major operation and the combination of science, professionals and technology
equals to good outcomes.”
The challenges of his career were in setting up the team and preparing
the system to ensure the operations were performed safely and effectively.
“We have had a nursing shortage across the country, that’s
always challenging for our services.”
He pointed out that the other challenge is related to the reimbursement
issue, in which surgeons are getting paid less by insurance companies
to perform their services.
What worries him about his patients is lack of medical compliance, sometimes
they do not take their prescribed medication and follow up with their
family doctor or cardiologist. He said, “Once I’m done with
the operation they still need someone to care for them, and some patients
are not compliant. Sometimes they think they are cured but a change in
lifestyle is necessary.”
According to him the non-compliance could be a cultural thing or sometimes
due to financial issues.
Dr. Martínez knows that his field is constantly evolving, and he
keeps up with the competitive edge. He said, “I want to keep us
on the forefront and to serve the community, and we have been providing
minimally invasive surgical procedures for the past two years.”
He continued, “There are other technologies such as transcatheter
aortic valve replacement(TAVR) that works in conjunction with a cardiologist.”
This minimally invasive surgical procedure repairs the valve without removing
the old, damaged valve. Instead, it wedges a replacement valve into the
aortic valve’s place. He said, “I think that we will be working
to perform these in the near future.”
He met his wife Christy J. Martínez, RN, a registered nurse when
he took his first job at Louisiana State University. “I went back
as attending staff at the university, and she was an ICU Nurse. She recovered
my cardiac patients, and we developed a good working relationship.”Was
it love, at first sight? “I would say yes; we started dating in
January 2002 and were married in November 2004.” They have one child
named Daniel Luke. Why is his middle name Luke? “I’m a Christian
and Luke in the Bible was a physician, and that’s why I named him
To reduce stress, Dr. Martínez rides his motorcycle; one time he
rode 1400 miles to attend a biker’s rally in Sturgis, South Dakota.
Dr. Martínez is actively involved in instituting quality performance
measures in the field of Cardiac Surgery. As a result of this, Harlingen
Medical Center has received a 3-star rating, which is the highest rating
from The Society of Thoracic Surgery for outstanding results in coronary
artery bypass grafting (CABG) procedures for the past two and a half years.
“ I am very thankful to all the people involved in the care of our
Dr. Martínez is an active member of the American College of Surgeons
(ACS) and the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS). His interest and expertise
in the field of heart surgery includes complex valvular procedures and
the Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery (MICS) approach.
It took many years of training and dedication to become a heart surgeon
and Dr. Martinez made a lot of personal sacrifices to fulfill his goal.
He still continues to educate himself by attending many conferences on
the most contemporary cardiothoracic procedures in order to bring cutting
edge medicine to his people in the Rio Grande Valley.
Dr. Martínez feels great satisfaction in his profession when his
patients are doing well. Because of his dedication and compassion for
his patients, Mega Doctor News selected Daniel Martínez, FACS as
the Mega Doctor for the month of February 2015.
You can contact Dr. Daniel Martínez at his practice called RGV Heart
Surgeons located at 618 Maco Drive in Harlingen, TX by calling
(956) 425-0111 and by e-mail:
email@example.com. For more information, you can also visit their website: