World-renowned cardiologist Eugene Sayfie remembered

Dr. Eugene Sayfie, who served on the faculty of the Miller School of Medicine for more than 35 years, rarely went anywhere without his black bag and stethoscope.
By News@TheU

Dr. Eugene Sayfie, who served on the faculty of the Miller School of Medicine for more than 35 years, rarely went anywhere without his black bag and stethoscope.

World-renowned cardiologist Eugene Sayfie remembered

By News@TheU
A tireless physician who was always on call, Dr. Sayfie made patients partners in their care.

One of Eugene J. Sayfie’s favorite sayings was, “Work is love made visible,” and the world-renowned cardiologist—who never quit working even after his 2018 retirement from UHealth—embodied that quote from Khalil Gibran’s “The Prophet” his entire life. 

Sayfie, who served on the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine faculty in various capacities for more than 35 years, never knew the meaning of working hours because he was always on call, until he fell sick himself. The humanitarian, civic leader, scholar, and philanthropist passed away Saturday from coronavirus at age 85. 

A practicing physician for 60 years, the former medical director of the Executive Health Program and associate professor of medicine was, as his family noted in a loving tribute, “an old-fashioned doctor with a cutting-edge mind” who rarely went anywhere without his doctor’s black bag and stethoscope—“leaving every place he visited and every person he met better than he found them.” 

“Dr. Sayfie distinguished himself by always putting his patients first, even making house calls and giving his cell phone number to everyone he treated,” said Miller School Dean Henri R. Ford. “He epitomizes the very kind of patient-centered physicians we strive to train at the Miller School of Medicine, and we are immensely proud that the Eugene J. Sayfie, M.D., Pavilion for Excellence in Patient Care, the comprehensive care facility he founded, carries on his legacy of making patients collaborative partners in their care.”

President Julio Frenk, who is serving as interim CEO of UHealth during the coronavirus crisis, noted that Sayfie left his mark on the University, both as an accomplished physician and as a mentor to many. “I admired his intellect, his immense generosity, and the devoted attentiveness he showed patients, students, and colleagues alike. Our community has lost a great leader," Frenk said.

Sayfie’s unique gifts were recognized many times during his remarkable career. The Miller School honored him with the University’s inaugural Distinguished Master Clinician Award in 2012, the same year the school opened the Sayfie Pavilion. Every year, the Department of Medicine celebrates the research and creative endeavors of students and faculty members by holding Eugene J. Sayfie, M.D., Research Day. 

Born in Charleston, West Virginia, to Lebanese immigrant parents, Sayfie began selling newspapers, with his older brother, at age 5. He would never stop working. By age 10, he had lost both his father and stepfather and he, his sister, and two brothers were raised by their mother and aunt. An exceptional student and avid athlete—he earned the nickname “Machine-gun Sayfie” for his prowess on the basketball court—he excelled in all his high school and college endeavors. 

After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from West Virginia University, he was awarded a scholarship to attend Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, where he graduated second in his class. He completed residencies in internal medicine at Boston City Hospital’s Harvard Medical School Service and at Case Western University Hospitals of Cleveland, where he also completed a cardiology fellowship. 

Prior to joining the University of Miami, Sayfie served at the Miami Heart Institute, where he was president of the medical staff, chief of medicine, and chief of the Cardiovascular Department. In 1969, he was part of the team that performed the first heart and kidney transplant in the southeastern United States. As president of the American Heart Association of Greater Miami, he initiated CPR courses in all Miami-Dade County Public Schools. 

Listed in both “Who’s Who in Medicine” and “Outstanding 100 Doctors in America” and inducted in the Miami Heart Institute’s Hall of Fame, Sayfie received many other honors during his lifetime. They include Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Robert Zeppa Award of Excellence; the Gold Antonian Medal of Honor from the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America; the Miami Heart Institute’s Builders Award; the Gold Medal Service Award from St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral, where the Eugene J. Sayfie Library is named in his honor; the Knight Commander of The Order of St. Ignatius; and, most recently, the inaugural Visionary Award from the Frost Museum of Science. 

He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Suzie Sayfie; their four daughters, Stephanie Sayfie Aagaard, Nicole Sayfie Porcelli, Lisa Sayfie, and Amy Sayfie Zichella; his grandchildren, Anders, Austin, Jordan, Leonardo, Enzo, Bella, Phia, Abigail, and Ava; his sons-in-law, Morten, Marcello, and Eric; family members Ernestine and Louie Ede, Judy Sayfie, Russell and Helene Bassett, Helen Stephan, and Renee and Rick Kuci; and their families. 

In lieu of flowers, the Sayfie family requests donations be made in honor of Dr. Eugene Sayfie to one of the following organizations, which he so passionately supported. 

The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis
Lois Pope LIFE Center
1095 NW 14th Terrace
Miami, FL 33136
Attn: Marc Buoniconti and Dr. Barth Green

Mount Sinai Medical Center Foundation
4300 Alton Road, Suite 100
Miami Beach, FL 33140
Attn: Dena Willman

Ransom Everglades School
3575 Main Highway
Miami, FL 33133
Attn: Advancement Office 
Online:  www.ransomeverglades.org/make-a-gift

St. George Cathedral Dr. Eugene J. Sayfie Scholarship Program
c/o Father Joseph Aboud
320 Palermo Ave.
Coral Gables, FL 33134