Medical Firsts

Throughout its combined history, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health has pioneered a number of new treatments and innovations in the Pacific Northwest.

We were the first medical center in the Pacific Northwest to earn designation as a Donor Care Network Center of Excellence by the National Kidney Registry. More than 3,000 kidney and pancreas transplants have been performed at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health since the medical center’s transplant program was established in 1972.

Other Firsts

  • 2018: First to offer MRI-compatible cochlear implant

    The first medical center in Washington state, and among the first in the nation, to offer a new MRI-compatible cochlear implant for people with significant hearing loss

  • 2018: Bailey-Boushay House opens

    Opened the Bailey-Boushay House, the first and only overnight shelter in the country for people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The program, which is a partnership with the City of Seattle, serves up to 50 homeless outpatients with HIV per night

  • 2017: New therapy for neuroendocrine tumors; “therapy car” invented

    The first medical center in Washington state to begin using a new therapy that targets neuroendocrine tumors, an uncommon cancer that affects the intestines, pancreas, lungs and other parts of the body

    A first of its kind “therapy car,” invented here to help orthopedic surgery patients practice the physical motions of safely getting in and out of a car, becomes licensed for commercial production and distribution to physical and occupational therapists around the world

  • 2016: First in Northwest to use TCAR; first to offer gastric balloon treatment

    First in the Pacific Northwest to use the transcarotid artery revascularization (TCAR) vascular procedure to treat carotid artery disease

    One of the first organizations in the region to offer a new gastric balloon weight-loss treatment option for people with obesity

  • 2014: First in region with new ultrasound breast cancer screening

    First in the region with a new ultrasound system, called the Automated Breast Ultrasound System (ABUS), for cancer screening of dense breast tissue

  • 2013: First to use FibroScan technology

    First in the Pacific Northwest to use noninvasive FibroScan technology to evaluate disease stage in people diagnosed with liver ailments

  • 2012: First to offer multidisciplinary hip care; intraoperative radiation therapy

    The Hip Preservation Program is the first in the Pacific Northwest to offer a multidisciplinary approach to hip care, preservation and treatment for people at every stage of life

    The first medical center in Washington state to offer intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) to treat women with early stage breast cancer

  • 2010: First on West Coast to offer isolated limb infusion

    The first medical center on the West Coast to offer isolated limb infusion (ILI) for the treatment of metastatic melanoma, the most dangerous and deadly form of skin cancer

  • 2005: Advances in flu shot access

    The first nonprofit hospital to implement a 100 percent staff influenza immunization goal and a fitness for duty requirement as an important safety effort to save lives

    The first medical center in the Pacific Northwest to offer a drive-through influenza immunization clinic


  • 2002: First human islet transplant in Pacific Northwest

    Participated in the first human islet transplant in the Pacific Northwest, resulting from the work of a citywide consortium including Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason, the Pacific Northwest Research Institute, Swedish Hospital, University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Puget Sound Blood Center

  • 2001: First in state to use robotic-assisted surgery; perform bilateral cochlear implant surgery; first to use capsule endoscopy

    First in state to use da Vinci™ robotic-assisted surgical system for radical prostatectomies and coronary artery bypass surgeries

    First bilateral cochlear implant surgery in the Pacific Northwest

    First in state to use capsule endoscopy


  • 1997: First in Northwest to use fluorescent endoscopy in lung cancer detection

    First in the Northwest to use LIFE-Lung Fluorescence Endoscopy in early detection of lung cancer in high-risk patients

  • 1996: First in region to use Mammotome

    First in the region to use the Mammotome biopsy system for early detection and treatment of breast cancer

  • 1995: First use of teleradiology

    First use of teleradiology to treat off-site patients

  • 1985: First lithotripsy

    First lithotripsy to treat kidney stones

  • 1980: First inner-ear implant operation; first insulin pump use

    First inner-ear implant operation in this region

    First in Northwest to use insulin pump for diabetes treatment

  • 1974: First electromagnetic imaging

    First use of electromagnetic imaging

  • 1957: First cobalt cancer therapy

    First cobalt cancer therapy

  • 1927: First Western hospital to give electrocardiogram

    First hospital west of the Mississippi to give electrocardiogram

  • 1925: First in region to form school for people with diabetes

    First in the region to form a school for people with diabetes and for insulin use

  • 1923: First deep therapy X-ray; first insulin use in Pacific Northwest

    First deep therapy X-ray

    First to use insulin to treat diabetes in the Pacific Northwest, 1923