King’s Daughters cardiothoracic surgeon Juan Bastidas, M.D., has traveled a long way to achieve his dreams. Literally.
A native of Pasto, in southern Colombia, Dr. Bastidas earned his medical degree from the University of Rosario in Colombia and completed a master’s in public health at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Training took him to Massachusetts, Louisiana and California, where he completed fellowship training in cardiothoracic surgery.
So how did he come to be in Ashland, Ky.? His wife, Mary Hughes, M.D., of course. The pair met in California, where she was completing her residency training in general surgery. “My wife’s family is from this area, on her mother’s side. They were born and grew up in Richmond, and she wanted to live in the same kind of environment, close to her family” he said. “I grew up in a small town in Colombia, and since I am not from this country, and she is from here, I was more than happy to please her and come to this area” he said.
It was during medical school that Bastidas developed an interest in becoming a heart surgeon. During one of his clinical rotations, he was permitted to be in the operating room during an open-heart surgery.
“I was maybe 20 years old. It was a big deal. Not everyone could get into a heart surgery suite” he recalls. “I was doing an anesthesia rotation and they let me in. It was something that changed my life.”
As a newly graduated physician in Colombia, Bastidas did a lot of community service work, providing general medical care, ob/gym and taking care of kids. During this time, “I saw a lot of patients who had the
need to have open heart surgery” he said. Sadly, the nearest hospital that offered it was 20 hours away.
“A lot of people didn’t make it because they didn’t have the options” he said. It’s better today, but Bastidas had to leave his native country and come to the U.S. to achieve his dream.
In 2011, 13 years after earning his medical degree and completing his general surgery residency, he began a three-year fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery at Loma Linda University Medical Center in California.
LLUM is one of the largest and busiest hospitals in California, giving Bastidas plenty of opportunity to develop his skills. During the course of his long journey, Bastidas has met people and families that he will never forget. “So much hangs in the balance and so many people are depending on you. In this profession, it is very critical surgery. It can be life-saving or life-changing”
“I saw a lot of patients who had the need to have open heart surgery.”
One case in particular still sticks with him.
“I was an attending already in California. The cardiologist called me at 2 a.m. in the morning and told me that he had a patient with a massive heart attack. He told me, ‘I don’t think we can save the patient, he’s going to start coding;” Bastidas said. The man was just 45 years old.
But Bastidas was determined. “We took him to the operating room as a salvage procedure. We put him on the pump. We did all of these things because he was a young guy” Bastidas recalls. “We took him to the room and re-vascularized him. The operation was like six hours.
“Everybody was thinking that we should just let him go, but I said he’s 45 we have to try. And he survived.
“I saved his life. I saved his family.”
Dr. Bastidas joins cardiothoracic surgeons Eric Bronstein, M.D. and Robert Fried, M.D. He earned his medical degree from University of Rosario, Bogota, Colombia; and completed a general surgery residency at General Surgery, Louisiana State University School of Medicine, New Orleans, La. He completed fellowship training in Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at Loma Linda University Medical Center, Loma Linda, Calif. He is board certified by American Board of General Surgery and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery.
KDMS – Cardiothoracic Surgeons of Kentucky
613 23rd St., Suite 210, Ashland I (606) 326-9847