April 01, 2012

Rick Ohye, MD: Tough mudder and surgeon

Rick Ohye, MD
What do you do at UMHS?

I’m a pediatric cardiac surgeon and head of the Section of Pediatric Cardiovascular Surgery in the newly formed Department of Cardiac Surgery. With other members of the U-M Congenital Heart Center (MCHC), we perform about 900 surgeries each year, making us one of the 2 or 3 most active congenital heart programs in the country.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Last night, a newborn arrived by helicopter from across the state with one of the congenital heart defects that is still a surgical emergency. The teamwork of MCHC faculty and staff is just one thing that makes it great to work here. The attending faculty, echocardiography attending, peds cardiac fellow, peds cardiac ICU nurses and staff, and congenital cardiac surgery fellow, worked together to get the child admitted and evaluated. The OR staff, anesthesiologist and perfusionists readied the OR. The operation went smoothly, and the child is recovering well. To take a child, who only a generation ago would have died within a few hours to days, intervene in the middle of the night, and send him home with his family as a healthy newborn is really amazing. Helping the kids is very rewarding.

When you’re not working, what do you do?

I spend time with my wife, Bonnie, our kids, Maddie (11) and Lily (10), dog, Gina (42, in dog years), and bunny, Buttons. I’m also an avid hockey player and fan, and play in several “beer leagues.” I mostly skate out at wing, but, not being satisfied with playing badly at only one position, took up goalie-ing more recently as well.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

I was the study chair for the first multi-institutional randomized prospective study ever performed in congenital heart surgery. At the start, I was told not to bother, that surgeons already know the answer, don’t need a study to tell them what’s best for their patients, and won’t share their results. Now that the study has been completed and published, I can’t go to meetings without congenital heart surgeons asking me what the next big trial will be and how to participate. That spirit of collaboration will endure long after the specific findings fade from memory.

What was the last book you read?

Probably a kid’s book I read to my daughters. Aside from that, I read Band of Brothers, by Stephen E. Ambrose, a while ago. Louis Nixon, the best friend of the main character, Dick Winters, is my uncle.

Which three people (living or dead) would you invite to dinner?

I’d invite my maternal grandmother and my two children. They never had the chance to meet. And of course, my grandma would cook all of the favorites from my youth for my kids!

What’s the most thrilling or adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

I’ll get back to you after my wife and I complete a Tough Mudder (10-12 mile obstacle course designed by British Special Forces) this summer in Colorado.