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Leading Cardiac Surgeon Dr. Brian Lima Discusses Life During the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Dr. Brian Lima is a cardiac surgeon, associate professor of surgery, and recognized authority in advanced heart failure. He has published nearly 80 articles in peer-reviewed medical journals and presented at numerous national and international medical conferences. As the surgical director of heart transplantation at North Shore University Hospital, Dr. Lima helped launch the first and only heart transplant program on Long Island. Dr. Lima completed his undergraduate studies at Cornell University and was awarded a Dean’s Full Tuition scholarship to attend Duke University School of Medicine. During medical school, Dr. Lima spent a year at Harvard Medical School’s Transplantation Biology Research Center as a Stanley Sarnoff cardiovascular research fellow. He then completed his general surgery residency training at Duke University Medical Center, and subsequent heart surgery training at The Cleveland Clinic, where he was awarded the prestigious Dr. Charles H. Bryan Annual Clinical Excellence Award in Cardiovascular Surgery. During an interview we discussed Dr. Lima’s new Bestselling Book Titled ‘Heart to Beat: A Cardiac Surgeon’s Inspiring Story of Success and Overcoming Adversity―The Heart Way, along with his experience treating patients during the Coronavirus Pandemic. This is what he shared up with us.

Most if not all books have a backstory about their creations, so what inspired you to write your bestselling book Heart to Beat: A Cardiac Surgeon’s Inspiring Story of Success and Overcoming Adversity―The Heart Way?

For years, I’ve had a progressive, inescapable sense of obligation to share my story, to share the countless invaluable lessons I learned chasing my American Dream. 

You are a leading heart transplant surgeon, and you have faced a lot of adversity in your life. Can you tell us one or two of your keys to success?

Having scratched and clawed every step of the way along this journey, I can assure you from firsthand experience that the greatest threat to reaching your full potential is smiling at you in the mirror. You are the key to your success, not because you’re special, but because success is earned not bestowed.

We all have shortcomings. There’s always someone more talented, or more naturally gifted. But no one can match your will to win! Unfortunately, the path to victory usually entails pain and suffering because the full scope of your inner greatness cannot be unleashed without being pushed well beyond your comfort zone.  The key is to approach life’s challenges and setbacks like our own hearts continuously strive to meet the demands of our body—unrelenting, constant effort and action even in dire circumstances. Rather than shying away from obstacles, or dwelling on our mistakes and misfortunes, we just keep methodically moving forward, onwards and upwards, without skipping a beat, focusing on what lies ahead, and hell bent on conquering what we set out to accomplish. We could affectionately refer to this strategy as “the heart way”, as I’ve outlined in this book. 

Since you have had a lot of adversity in your life, and overcome it to become one of the best heart transplant doctors, do you have some advice for readers who are currently facing adversity in their personal or work life?

At the end of the day, I truly believe that no matter what the world throws our way, we are the final arbiters of what impact that event, stressor, or circumstance will have on our lives. We get to decide to press on, regardless, the heart way, avoiding all shortcuts, always taking the high road, with eyes facing forward, affixed on the future and oblivious to the past, essentially becoming Heart to Beat!

Writing a book is not for the faint of heart, it’s a very time consuming process. While writing Heart to Beat, did you learn anything new about yourself?

Writing this book was a labor of love that I will always cherish. This cathartic process forced me to revisit and relive some of the most tragic and challenging moments of my life, but equipped this time around with a fresh perspective and a keen sense of gratitude for those trying times. Those tough times are what molded me into the person I am today. For that I remain eternally grateful. I wouldn’t trade places with anyone. Everything happened for a reason, and that reason, while virtually imperceptible at the time, in retrospect always comprised a key formative step in my development and maturation.

Why was becoming a Dr. important to you and if possible what are some of the challenges that you are facing and overcoming as a Dr. during the Covid Pandemic? 

When I was only 10 years old, my father survived a heart attack at a very young age, sparking my drive to make a difference in the world of heart care. I vowed to dedicate his life to helping people and their families pull through that scary experience of a life threatening illness.

Normally, the risk of death with heart surgery is a risk shouldered primarily by the patients we operate on—that is, until the COVID pandemic. For the first time in my career, my life was at risk, each and every day I tended to the care of COVID patients. It was challenging and scary, but it made appreciate that much more the Hippocratic Oath I swore nearly 20 years ago. Patients come first, and that’s what my life is all about! 

Bonus Question 

After a long day at work, what are some of the things that you do to unwind and just have fun with the family? 

Spending quality time with my wonderful wife and playing with our fur babies is something I always look forward to. We make the most of the limited time we get to spend together, and it’s during these precious times that I recharge and ready myself for the challenges that lay ahead for me in the clinical wards and operating room.

For Interviews with Dr. Lima Please contact Michael Beas of Atlas Elite Partners

MichaelBeas@AtlasElitePartners.com

With a Ph.D. in environmental science, Tracey has intricate knowledge about things that have been going around in this particular domain. While working as a professor, she also contributes highly-informative science and environment news for USA Reformer.

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