John Wright was the first Australian to be awarded honorary appointments to the American College of Surgeons, the American College of Chest Physicians and the American Society of Thoracic Surgeons. He was also the first-appointed Australian professor of cardiac surgery.
He founded the Sydney Cardio-thoracic Surgeons’ Society in 1970. He was visiting fellow of the British Heart Foundation at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, London, in 1971. He pioneered cardiac consultancies in the Pacific Islands and Mauritius in 1975. He established the first cardiac tissue bank in Sydney in 1984. Twelve of his past registrars were appointed to senior specialist positions in Australia and overseas.
He has co-authored or published textbooks on congenital heart surgery and written more than 100 articles in surgical journals. As well, he has presented 120 papers at national and international, surgical meetings. His contributions have included innovative techniques for complex cardiac defects, design of clot-resistant surfaces, deep hypothermic surgery, membrane oxygenation, extra-cranial arterial surgery and computerised intensive care. He continues to write surgical articles for major journals.