NEW ORLEANS — A former transplant surgeon said more people could get the lifesaving organs they need if hospital programs and surgical teams were set up differently.
He said organ shortages are not always the problem. He explains that, and a very personal story about physician burnout in a new book, “Exhale: Hope, Healing, and a Life in Transplant.“
After growing up in New Orleans, going to Tulane Medical School, followed by seven more years of training, Dr. David Weill became a lung transplant surgeon when the field was in its infancy.
“No one really really wanted to do it. No one knew that it was going to be a field really, and I said, ‘Yeah, I'll do that. That sounds really cool,’” said Dr. David Weill, Principal, Weill Consulting Group.
He ran the lung transplant program at Stanford. There was a tremendous bond with patients and satisfaction in saving lives.
“We got very close to our patients. We came to know them rather intimately, and developed a relationship with them that lasted years.”
After 25 years came burnout and the intense emotions that can follow.
“You stop remembering the successes and you focus entirely on the failures. That's when I knew that it was time, time to step aside for a little while,” he said.
Dr. Weill put those emotions, frustrations with the changing health care system, how electronic medical records are distancing the doctor-patient relationship, and personal patient stories, in his new book “Exhale.” He is also candid about the human side of physician emotions.
“Watching patients, you know, die and talking to families about the loss of one of their kids, or watching a young mother with two kids, you know, pass away, is difficult, and it really helps a lot if you can just say how you're feeling to somebody.”
The pandemic hit a system, he said, was not prepared.
When asked if he thinks we're going to see more lung transplants and more physician and nurse burnout, he responds, “I do. We're already seeing an up tick in lung transplant activity among people that are acutely ill with COVID-19 pneumonia.”
Now as a consultant, Dr. Weill advises transplant programs on how to run more efficiently, so more people get the life-saving organs they need.
Tonight at 6pm, you can join a free, Tulane Zoom seminar to hear more from Dr. Weill.
Exhale comes out May 11.