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The Man Behind the Surgical Mask.  Getting to know Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Dr Martin Myburgh.

What do you love about your job? Every success story. Being able to help the most vulnerable and innocent of people, children, who have done nothing to deserve what is happening to them. There is no greater privilege. Anything you hate about your job? Breaking bad news to family. What do you find most difficult about your job? Most difficult part of this job is dealing with the loss of a patient. Someone who never even got a chance to live. What is the most stressful part of practicing as a Cardiothoracic Surgeon? All operations are stressful. Being entrusted with the life of someone’s child is nerve-wracking. It feels as if God is watching over your shoulder judging every cut and every suture you place. Can you tell us about your journey to becoming a Cardiothoracic Surgeon? Was there anything in particular that drew you towards Cardiothoracic Surgery, or did it just happen? I have always wanted to be a Cardiothoracic surgeon. The challenge of performing surgery on someone’s heart has always been very alluring.

Any advice for aspiring Cardiothoracic Surgeons? Becoming a Cardiothoracic Surgeon is a deep seated calling. It is not a job that you do for the status of it. It requires unimaginable effort and motivation. Your knowledge of the field must be all encompassing and unparalleled. There is no room for mediocrity in a field where there are no margins for error.

Is being a Cardiothoracic Surgeon what you imagined it would be? It’s much better than what I imagined. Anything in particular that inspires you? It’s easy to find inspiration all around you. In my colleagues and all the nursing staff in ICU and theatre. In my wife and kids at home. Even in the worrying parents standing next to their child’s bed. Any outstanding memories? There are many. From my first operation through all the major victories of very difficult cases. The majority are all good however, there are also a handful of difficult losses that remain with you. Can you tell us something you’ve learnt about people on your journey as a Cardiothoracic Surgeon? That the parents and family of the children are more fragile than the children themselves. If you hadn’t been a Cardiothoracic Surgeon, what could you imagine yourself doing? Probably an engineer. The planning and problem solving seems very alluring. I would have to do some extreme sport on the side, like base jumping, just to keep my adrenaline levels up. How would you describe the act/experience of saving a person’s life? What is it like sharing this kind of news with a patient's family? It is the most rewarding and most fulfilling experience anyone can have. The moment when all your blood, sweat and tears finally pays off. What 3 words would you use to describe your job? Anxiety driven fulfillment. Any rituals you practice to prepare yourself before going into theatre? The entire build up before every surgery is a ritual. From the planning the night before, to the way I scrub my hands. Up to where I ask the Lord to please watch over this child today.


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