John Berne, M.D., was uneasy. Despite more than 20 years of experience in critical care medicine as a trauma surgeon at Broward Health Medical Center, Berne was about to become the patient.
Berne, who then weighed 325 pounds and was considered morbidly obese, had made the decision in October 2017 to undergo a robotic sleeve gastroectomy, which would remove most of his stomach.
"It was a big step," said Berne. "I was nervous, and my wife was nervous."
Berne decided to move forward with the surgery when his daughter almost drowned in a scuba diving incident.
"I was trying to swim to her, but I was so out of shape I was not able to get to her," said Berne. "Another person was able to rescue her, but it was a wake-up call. Also my uncle died of morbid obesity at a young age and I didn't want to end up that way. Ultimately, it came down to my health."
Berne chose to have his surgery at Broward Health Medical Center, where he had performed so many surgeries on his own patients. Berne said that because he knew the staff, he felt confident placing his health in the hands of bariatric surgeons Ronald Moore, M.D., and Chi Zhang, M.D., whom he had worked with since 2016.
Berne's surgery was performed with the assistance of advanced robotic technology that enables access through a few small incisions and can potentially result in less scarring, less pain and discomfort, and a shorter recovery. According to Moore, the da Vinci Xi robotic system "affords a high level of precision that is safe and provides results."
Berne remembers waking up after surgery, which only took a couple of hours, and not feeling a lot of pain. After two days in the hospital he was back at home, and in less than a week he returned to work.
"I had a rapid recovery," Berne said. "If you look at my stomach, it's like I never had surgery. There is absolutely no scarring."
Berne has lost about 75 pounds since the procedure.
"It was one of the best things I did in my life," Berne said. "It was a whole lot easier than I thought it would be."