Dr. Mark Hebert 2013Thibodaux Regional SurgeonFor Doctors feature in Voila!Dr. Mark Hebert (BS ’88)

17 years in practice | General Surgery | Thibodaux Surgical Specialists

“The Nicholls pre-med program’s smaller classes and one-on-one instruction are fairly unique. Medical school was a little more difficult for my friends who had gone to larger universities. They didn’t have the extensive biology background that I did.”

During my first year in practice, a patient was admitted to Thibodaux Regional Medical Center after several days of nausea, vomiting and pain. We ran a series of tests and determined that he had a gastric volvulus, which is usually a catastrophic condition. His stomach was essentially twisted, causing it to lose its blood supply. Without blood, the stomach starts to die. It was the first time I had personally seen this type of case, but I had a clear understanding of how to manage it.

I performed emergency surgery to remove his entire stomach. I repaired what damage I could before putting it back in his abdomen. His esophagus could no longer function properly, so I attached it to his skin on his chest wall. For weeks, the patient had no connection between his mouth and his intestines. He was fed through a tube, and a bag collected any spit he swallowed. He spent a long time in the Intensive Care Unit and probably four to six weeks in the hospital.

After more than a year of care, he was finally ready to have his final operation, where part of his colon was used to replace his esophagus and reconnect his mouth to his intestines. Today, this patient has esophageal function and is still walking around Thibodaux.

That’s what’s really gratifying about surgery and why I love coming to work every morning. In surgery, you’re able to make a disease go away, to remove a condition and produce a cure. This case was very rare, but even if it’s just a patient with gallbladder disease who is hurting, it’s so gratifying to be able to remove the problem and know they’re feeling better.

Because I grew up in north Thibodaux, many of the patients I take care of know my parents, know my friends or know me. When I was 12 years old, I was a paperboy for the Daily Comet, and I’ve had the pleasure of taking care of several of my old paper-route customers. It’s been fantastic for me, but I think it also brings a certain degree of comfort for the patients. They know who I am; they watched me grow up.

— Written by Stephanie Verdin, publications coordinator

This article originally appeared in the fall 2013 issue of Voila! magazine. Click here to read the entire issue.