Houston: The Locals

Jody Horton
by Julia Reed - Texas - February/March 2012

Power Players: Four Houstonians who continue to prove that the city has a very big heart

Charles Fraser
Though Charles Fraser grew up in Midland, and he married into Houston medical royalty (his wife, Helen, is the daughter of legendary heart surgeon Denton Cooley), he’d planned to live out his career at the Cleveland Clinic—until he was offered “an unparalleled opportunity to build a program at Texas Children’s,” now the largest pediatric hospital in the United States. Fraser, surgeon in chief, chief of congenital heart surgery, and cardiac surgeon in charge, arrived in 1995. Now the heart center’s team has five hundred full-time employees, performs almost a thousand heart surgeries a year, and developed the nation’s largest pediatric lung transplant program. “I view myself as a surgeon first,” says Fraser, who operates at least three days a week. “When you’re operating on little babies, the outcome of the operation is viewed in terms of decades of life. That keeps you coming back.”