Dr. Marc R. Moon is a Washington University cardiac surgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital with over 20 years of experience. Dr. Moon specializes in mitral valve replacement, coronary artery bypass surgery, aortic dissection, and treating vascular disease.
We’ve all heard of eight-mile in Detroit because of Eminem. I grew up on six-mile, a couple of miles away but a little bit more into the city and I was born on six-mile, lived on six mile my whole life. My mother, I think, was the one that convinced me at an early age that I wanted to become a physician. Maybe brainwashing – left me a doctor’s bag for a Christmas present but I think I owe it to my mother and her encouragement over the years. I did all of my training in Detroit initially and then went to Milwaukee where I studied general surgery and did my heart surgery training at Stanford in California. I also spent some time at Oxford in England doing vascular surgery. But immediately when I finished my training is when I came to Barnes-Jewish Hospital. It’s where the opportunity was, the best hospital in the country that I could imagine I could work at and it’s just been really an honor to be here for the last 20 years.
Being a cardiac surgeon is fun. Its exciting work, every day is a new adventure. Whether it’s meeting patients in the clinic for the first time to try to come up with a treatment plan or the endpoint of trying to fix a valve interoperatedly with a new technique that I may have learned at a conference that we attended. The care of a cardiac surgery patient is multifaceted. Preoperative medical assessment, intraoperative care and probably, most importantly, is the postoperative care. Getting the patient back to the level of activity that they desire.
You know students come to me and ask me is cardiac surgery a good field to go into because it’s safe and stable. I think they’re looking at the wrong focus – I think it needs to be exciting. I look forward to change. There’s lesser invasive ways to do procedures. We can do procedures now through the groin without having to crack open a chest and that’s just exciting, so I really look forward to the future and the many changes that are coming in the next 20 years I’m in practice.
About 2-3 years ago, I got a call from the emergency room that there was a patient with an aortic dissection. Fairly routine, we do a number of those here. However, she happened to be 8 months pregnant, she was a patient with Marfan syndrome who had a life-threatening aortic dissection and we had to take the patient to the operating room immediately to save her life as well as the baby. Throughout the operation we had one of the OB nurses there with a monitor there on the stomach just at the ready. There was a nurse in the corner with OB equipment, which is probably the biggest surgical instruments your could ever imagine, compared to our little teeny things where we’re working on the heart but she was ready to go at a moment’s notice if that baby needed to be delivered. We were able to get her through the surgery and within two days, she was with her baby, sitting, recuperating from the surgery, so it was very exciting for me.
I think the secret to patient care is truly caring for the patient and although I may not hold the patients hand in the preoperative area or hold it in the postoperative area, from the minute I meet them, the focus is to have them develop their own treatment plan and be comfortable with that treatment plan. The worst thing you can have is a patient going into surgery saying I’m not sure this is the right decision. If they say that, it’s not the right decision. You need to re-evaluate from the beginning – whether it’s medical therapy, interventional therapy or surgical therapy, we want that to be the patient’s decision moving forward so that they can feel comfortable about what they’re going to have done.