Q: My dad has just been told he needs a triple, possibly
quadruple, heart bypass surgery. Both the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo
Clinic (far from where he lives) are supposed to be leaders in bypass surgery. How
feasible is it to "fly-in" and receive treatment if you don't have
an established relationship with a cardiologist affiliated with either of these
Dr. Donnica: My opinion is based upon being a doctor and
having been a patient where I flew in to another city far away to have major
surgery from "the expert" in that procedure. Of course, each patient's
situation is different.
You're asking if it's feasible (the answer is yes), rather than first asking
if it's advisable.
The major problem with "fly-in" surgery is that you then have to
fly home!!! Not exactly what your average post-op patient feels like doing.
I TOTALLY underestimated how horrible an experience that would be. This in
and of itself can compromise the whole operation! Another issue is having major
surgery and recuperation far away from friends and family who can come visit
and/or inconveniencing family members who have to fly to another city, stay
in a hotel, disrupt their lives, etc. Of course, being great family members,
they may be perfectly willing to do this for you, but is it really necessary?
Does your dad's condition really require THE expert, or is he better off getting
very good care from the very good doctors who are within driving distance of
his home? There is a lot to be said for having your own surgeon available for
routine follow-up as well as in the event of any complications. In my case,
I had to see "the expert" because I had a very rare problem that other
surgeons in my area didn't feel comfortable correcting. But I had a few complications,
each of which necessitated flying back to consult the expert for follow-up,
either painfully on my own or inconveniently with a family member.
You didn't say where your dad lived. My recommendation would be to find the
best doctor/hospital in the area and have the surgery there.
Donnica L. Moore, MD
Created: 8/1/2002  - Donnica Moore, M.D.