By Danielle Dellorto, CNN Medical Producer
I wasn’t sure what to expect as I waited outside the employee parking lot of Grady Memorial Hospital Monday morning. My assignment for the day? Produce a story on Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s life outside of CNN – his life as a trauma neurosurgeon. For the past three years I’ve been producing stories for him – but this time he was my story.
He greeted our crew a little before 5 a.m. with a familiar smile and diet soda in hand. Wasting no time with chit-chat, he scurried into the hospital, quickly changed into scrubs, then was off to his “home away from home”, O.R. 14. He had three cases scheduled by the time we arrived – a brain surgery and two spinal fusions.
First up – clipping a ruptured brain aneurysm.
My heart raced as I stood on pins and needles watching a critical part of the operation, during which the patient had an interoperative brain bleed. “I always like to tell people we spend 99% of our preparation on the 1% of things that happen.” Sanjay’s team didn’t flinch. They knew she’d be losing a liter of blood in just seconds and to prevent disaster, they raced to stop the bleed. Mission accomplished. It was a scary 90 seconds for a bystander like myself watching it all go down, so what really struck me was how calm and focused his team was the entire time.
“When you have an aneurysm rupture like that and you are losing a liter of blood over several seconds, it makes any TV live shot you've ever done look not that scary. I know if I don’t get that thing stopped within a couple of minutes, the patient won’t survive,” he explained.
No doubt their neuro team is a well-oiled machine. It was especially fascinating to watch Dr. Gupta interact with his residents. “Many of my residents have never done cases like this so I get to show them for the first time how to do these procedures, which is pretty interesting for me and for them,” Gupta said. Between critical moments in the O.R. they chatted like comrades. Everything from rock concerts, to their love lives to real estate – joking around like old friends.
One thing that is “very important” during surgery: the music. I watched as they took turns flipping through the iPod. Dr. Gupta gave me his ultimate playlist for brain surgery: open with Gypsy Kings or Rise by Eddie Vedder and close the surgery with Coldplay’s Viva La Vida or Mr. Brightside. Solid picks, Doc!
The morning flew by fast. By 10am, Dr. Gupta and his team had already saved one life. By 10pm, that tally was up to three. Overall, it was incredibly exciting to not only see a whole other side of Sanjay on the job, but also see inside the human brain!
Want to see more in the weeks to come? Follow Sanjay on Twitter @sanjayguptacnn. He posts cool pics each week from the operating room!