New Director of Pediatric Surgery
A 3 a.m. experience was the catalyst for a career in pediatric surgery for Children’s Hospital’s newest subspecialist. William Glaze Vaughan, M.D., who joined Children’s Hospital in February as the new Director of Pediatric Surgery, was inspired during residency by his mentor, Dr. Darrell Hermann, during that 3 a.m. surgery.
“His eyes gleaming, Dr. Hermann looked at me and said, ‘Can you believe they pay me to do this?’” Dr. Vaughan said. “His passion and enthusiasm for the surgical care of children ignited my desire to pursue a career in pediatric surgery.”
Dr. Vaughan eventually completed a fellowship in pediatric surgery in Indianapolis and most recently has been in practice in Fort Worth, Texas.
“I care deeply for children. As the father of four, two of whom have undergone surgery, I am keenly aware of the emotional distress and anguish that parents experience when their child has surgery,” Dr. Vaughan said. “Being a father has made me a better doctor, and being a doctor has made me a better father. It’s an honor and a privilege to care for children. When parents entrust me with their child, I assure them that I’ll care for their child as though the child was my own.”
Dr. Vaughan and his wife, Kimberly, are both originally from Georgia, so returning to the southeastern United States was appealing. When he visited and interviewed at Children’s Hospital last summer, he found himself impressed with both the scenery, which appeals to his love of outdoor activities, and the people: “I went home and told my wife it felt ‘familiar,’ like a family reunion. There was a sense of home, and the people were kind and genuine and generous.”
As a pediatric surgeon, Dr. Vaughan treats patients from birth to about age 18 – that encompasses premature infants weighing barely a pound (and who will fit into the palm of his hand) up to teens who have reached maturity. “They have different body types, different physiologies, different diagnoses,” he said. “So it’s very broad. It’s always interesting and offers a great deal of variety.”
Common surgeries include hernias, “lumps and bumps,” appendicitis and circumcision. On the other end of the scale are the more complicated and unusual cases – neonatal surgeries, chest wall deformities, fundoplications for gastroesophageal reflux disease, congenital lung cysts, gastroschisis (intestine outside the abdomen at birth), diaphragmatic hernias (hole in the breathing muscles) and solid tumor cancers.
Any case can be complicated if the patient has a variation of the disease. “Many children will have a surgical condition that is not a ‘textbook case,’ so we sometimes have to step way outside the box to think of the possibilities and ways to provide the best care for each unique case,” Dr. Vaughan said.
Dr. Vaughan enjoys working with families in tackling the challenges of providing the best surgical care for their children. Pediatric surgeons are faced with technical challenges, such as operating on a premature baby that may weigh little more than a pound, and physical challenges, such as correcting a deeply depressed chest wall deformity. According to Dr. Vaughan, his greatest challenge is the emotionally heavy responsibility of delivering heartbreakingly bad news. “When the outcome is not good, such as for a child who has experienced a severe traumatic accident, it is more than difficult to tell the parents their child is no longer with us.”
However, medical science progresses at a rapid pace, offering Dr. Vaughan and his pediatric surgery colleagues new instrumentation and procedures to provide better care. For example, minimally invasive surgery is possible in even the smallest neonatal patients now because of the miniaturization of surgical instruments. “Minimally invasive surgery offers decreased pain, decreased morbidity, less scarring and sometimes even better outcomes than traditional surgery,” he said.
Keith Goodwin, President/CEO of Children’s Hospital, said of Dr. Vaughan, “We’re thrilled that he’s come to join Children’s Hospital and lead our pediatric surgery group in providing care to the children of this region.”