Vascular surgeon Amir Kaviani, MD, finds parallels in medicine and his
passion for restoring cars.
When not suited up in scrubs, vascular and endovascular surgeon
Amir Kaviani, MD, can often be found operating under the hood of one of his classic Alfa
Romeos. He fell in love with these cars as a child. Today, refurbishing
them is one of his passions.
“It’s my time to chill and escape. I love resurrecting something
that’s old and returning it to be something cool and functional
again,” he says.
His view of his hobby parallels that of his other passion—his chosen
specialty of medicine. Both involve repairing something to its former
condition with a “quantitative” result.
“Compared to other specialties in medicine where a good outcome can
be a subjective determination, repairing the circulation system has very
specific and objective criteria for success,” he says.
If one continues to probe Dr. Kaviani’s career path and accomplishments
for less quantitative grey areas, not many can be found. Torrance Memorial
vascular surgeon and current chief medical officer John McNamara, MD,
recalls first meeting Dr. Kaviani while the two were completing fellowships
at the Cleveland Clinic 10 years ago.
“He was a star vascular fellow,” Dr. McNamara says. He was
very well organized and good with patients. He was definitely the whole
When his fellowship ended, the Cleveland Clinic wanted to keep Dr. Kaviani
on staff, but he was weighing a return to Southern California to be closer
to family. Dr. McNamara made Dr. Kaviani promise not to sign any contracts
until he paid a visit to the Association of South Bay Surgeons in Torrance,
where Dr. McNamara practiced.
Something else made an impression on Dr. McNamara at the Cleveland Clinic.
Upon his return, he told Torrance Memorial’s president and CEO Craig
Leach “I have seen the future, and we’re not the future. To
be on the forefront, we really need a
hybrid operating room.”
A hybrid operating room did not yet exist at a California hospital. Over
the past decade, medicine has been rapidly moving away from maximally
invasive open surgery toward minimally invasive, catheter-based procedures.
A hybrid operating room features sophisticated systems for these types
of procedures, while also meeting the sterility and equipment standards
of a traditional operating room. This enables providers to perform high-risk,
minimally invasive procedures and switch to open surgery without moving
the patient if a dire complication arises.
The hybrid OR is used to perform a full range of endovascular services,
including abdominal aortic aneurysm repair. It’s also used for carotid
artery stenting, a procedure in which a tube or other device is used to
expand the vital arteries that supply oxygenated blood to the head and
neck, thereby reducing the risk of stroke.
Dr. Kaviani made good on his promise. During his visit to Torrance he also
met with Craig Leach. Their conversation sealed the deal on his return
to his home state. Leach expressed his commitment to build the first hybrid
operating room on the West Coast.
Dr. Kaviani made the move back to California and joined the Association
of South Bay Surgeons. The timing enabled him the opportunity to influence
the design of Torrance Memorial’s hybrid OR. Within six months of
its 2007 opening, Torrance Memorial became the busiest hospital for vascular
surgery in Southern California.
Four years ago construction plans were set in motion for a new patient
tower. Central to its design elements would be an even more advanced hybrid
OR. At the Lundquist Tower’s opening in November 2014, the new hybrid
OR paved the way for the medical center to become first in the South Bay
to offer even more advanced procedures such as
transcatheter aortic valve replacement, known as TAVR. TAVR enables patients once considered inoperable due to
complex medical conditions to undergo lifeextending heart valve replacement.
It was such “progressive thinking and action” that inspired
Dr. Kaviani to seek a quantitative way to say “thank you”
to the medical center that launched his career. Earlier this year, he
made a gift to name one of the Lundquist Tower’s third floor Intensive
Care Unit Visitor Lounges.
“What’s unique about Torrance Memorial is the administration’s
commitment to develop a vision that’s based on the community’s
needs, and then follow through to make the finances work for that vision.
It’s traditionally the other way around—with the vision based
on what finances are available. This (latter type of) thinking pushes
you away from the cutting edge and from what the community deserves,”
Dr. Kaviani says. “Most of the administrators and employees grew
up and live here in the South Bay. They are a part of the community and
view Torrance Memorial as an asset in which they share a vested interest
Another inspiration to Dr. Kaviani’s giving spirit and also his career
path was his father, Ali Kaviani, a pediatric surgeon who helped spearhead
fundraising efforts as a foundation board member at Children’s Hospital
in Orange County. Dr. Ali Kaviani trained under future surgeon general
C. Everett Koop at The Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia in the
After completion of pediatric surgical training, the senior Dr. Kaviani
returned to his native Iran, where Amir was born. Following the country’s
1979 revolution, the family moved back to the United States and planted
roots in Newport Beach.
“My father was my role model because he always loved what he did,
so I grew up believing that I wanted to be a physician and later a surgeon,”
After attending the University of Pennsylvania where he completed undergraduate
studies with honors, Amir Kaviani attended Medical School at Boston University.
Following completion of his residency in general surgery at Yale University
School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., he left for the Cleveland Clinic
to pursue specialty training in vascular surgery.
Ten years ago Amir met his wife, Nazanin. Shortly after, the couple married.
Together with their 5-year-old daughter, Sophia, they enjoy the South
Bay lifestyle, which includes spending time with extended family and hiking
in Palos Verdes.
Among Dr. Kaviani’s current goals is to help raise awareness and
understanding among fellow physicians about the struggle hospitals face
amid a rapidly changing health care landscape. “Even the most profitable
hospitals operate at a margin of 1% to 2%,” he says. “Many
may think just a small donation won’t make difference, but each
small donation adds up to make a significant impact. Torrance Memorial
is a freestanding hospital and doesn’t need to check in with large
conglomerates that may not be in touch with the needs of our community
to make its decisions. However, because of that, the financial backing
is not always as robust, so it’s always important to maintain a
As Dr. Kaviani goes to work each day in the hybrid OR, the Lundquist Tower
serves as a constant reminder of the “tangible and quantitative”
results to which avid community support leads. “I feel so blessed
for what this hospital has done for me and that we have such an asset
as this facility here in our community,” he says. “We (Torrance
Memorial) have always had the talents and culture to make a terrific hospital.
The Lundquist Tower shines a light on that now.”