Dr. McFadden is the Surgical Co-Director of the lung transplant program at the USC Transplant Institute of Keck Medicine of USC.
Here’s what you won’t find on his resume:
The community inspired him to become a doctor.
“I grew up with my family in West Texas. When I was 11, my family moved to New Orleans. My dad, a petroleum engineer, worked in oil and gas and was in charge of Offshore Production in the Gulf of Mexico for Exxon. The New Orleans community was rich with excellent physicians and celebrated surgeons. My personal physician, a pediatrician, lived a block away from me down the street. He was one of my first role models. Because of the influence of the renowned surgeons in our community, I always had my eyes set on becoming a doctor.”
He’s a cowboy at heart.
“Growing up, our family had horses and we went on vacations that included horseback riding. We were allowed to wear Cowboy boots and blue jeans to school, so I was in heaven. As I got older, I participated in athletics, both track and field, and played football in high school. In college, I threw the discus and shot-put. People find it surprising that even though I’m a cardiothoracic surgeon, I still consider myself a cowboy, a football player and a discus thrower.”
Sailing brings him joy.
“My favorite travel destination is San Diego. My father-in-law lives there and he has this beautiful 48-foot sailboat. It’s such a big boat that it takes more than one person to sail it, so I get to participate in that every time. We go sailing on the Pacific and in the harbor and it’s a real break from the humdrum of everyday living. San Diego is also where I spent much of my time in the Navy as a Medical Officer.”
He doesn’t want to trade his career with anyone.
“I have to stay that I am exactly where I want to be and exactly who I want to be. This is what I’ve looked forward to all my life. At Keck Medicine of USC I’m working at what I consider the greatest cardiothoracic program in the country. I enjoy not only the type of work I do and the patients I have, but also the opportunity to be involved in surgical education as a professor. I give lectures to medical students; I train interns, residents, and fellows in not only cardiothoracic surgery, but also general surgery. This is an honor and privilege and exactly what I always wanted to do in life.”
Healing is his expertise.
“I do many things in my practice from lung transplants, to cancer operations of the lung and esophagus, and I have a special interest in surgical management of pulmonary emboli. The most rewarding part of my job though is when I’m able to help patients that have very severe conditions. When they come to us, they are so sick and they cannot breathe. After we perform lung transplants or other surgical procedures that improve their breathing capacity from a terminal state, you immediately feel the reward for getting them back to breathing again.
It doesn’t stop there either. I listen to my patients and they appreciate that. I have received many reports and letters back from patients stating that they really enjoyed their experience with me and my team. Some are so happy with the experience that they spread praise or even become donors to the Hospital and University. I feel that we are doing the right thing when it comes to compassion and being straightforward and honest with our patients. We do everything we can to tell our patients of the risks and possible complications of a procedure, but we also let them know that we will do everything we can to take good care of them.”
He started the Liberate Study.
“Because of the lung transplant program, I started the Liberate study. It began back in 2013 and I became the Principal Investigator of this clinical research program at USC. This is a non-surgical endobronchial lung volume reduction procedure that is performed by placing one-way valves in areas of the lung that are highly ventilated, but not functional enough to exchange oxygen. This decompresses the lung so that the diaphragms work better and the air that a person breathes goes to areas of the lung that are going to be supplied by blood so oxygen can be picked up better. We were the first center in the country to perform this endobronchial valve implantation procedure for the Liberate Study. The results are not out yet, but we hope it will give another option for patients that have terminal emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Artificial hearts are the most influential advancements in his field.
“Rumors have been spreading about the decline of cardiothoracic surgery. That just isn’t the case. It’s true that in this country the number of coronary artery bypasses that are performed has declined recently, due to better medical care and intervention by cardiology. However, so many new discoveries have been made that were not available before, such as lung volume reduction endobronchial valve procedures that don’t require surgery and ventricular support and artificial hearts.
Artificial hearts are the most influential advancements in our field. We have devices now that we can use as artificial hearts which the patient can leave the hospital with. They don’t have to take large units with them like they used to in the early days and we can bridge people to transplantation by supporting their hearts.”
Keck Medicine of USC is at the pinnacle of experience.
I have worked at four major institutions in my career. I just happen to hit each place at the pinnacle of their experience in cardiothoracic surgery. I really enjoyed that because when I was at Stanford it was the year that Dr. Shumway and Dr. Bruce Reitz performed the first heart and lung transplant. Here at Keck Medicine of USC, it is the best training in cardiothoracic surgery that I have ever seen across the country.
This is where it is.
We are doing everything in cardiothoracic surgery, from the routine stuff like valve replacement and coronary bypasses to more innovative things such as robotic surgery, video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery, thoracic organ transplantation and artificial hearts. It’s just so rewarding to be able to train the next doctors who will be taking care of us. The residents, fellows and interns often teach us as much as we teach them.
Dr. McFadden is the Professor of Clinical Cardiothoracic Surgery. Click here to view Dr. McFadden’s full biography.