When Dr. McLarty was a medical resident, she fell in love with the heart and cardiac surgery. Now she is Co-Director of the Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) Program and Director of the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) Program at Stony Brook University Heart Institute.

Dr. McLarty cares for patients with all forms of heart disease who require surgery, as well as for patients with chest disease, including lung cancer. Her clinical interests include aortic surgery (in particular, minimally invasive endovascular stenting for thoracic aortic aneurysms) and ventricular assist devices for patients with severe heart failure. When these treatments restore active, healthy living to patients, she says, “it’s miraculous every single time.” 

Although Dr. McLarty was prepared to work hard, she faced a different kind of challenge as a new attending physician twenty years ago.

“Fresh out of training, I was young and female and black,” she recalls. “Not everybody, when I walked into their room to do a consult, thought that they wanted to trust me with their heart. I didn’t look like their idea of a heart surgeon.”

Dr. McLarty stayed focused on her goal to be an outstanding physician, and today she mentors others who are considering a healthcare career. “I tell young people all the time: there’s always a door that’s open,” she says. “Take the opportunity, make the most of it and see where it takes you.”