Heart transplant

The local doctor is part heart transplant surgeon and part life mechanic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) – A national award has just been given to a member of our community who saves lives for a living. There is a whole other part of his story that shows a man as a true multi-talented local hero.

Taking to the road is very much on the mind of 14-year-old Anjali Babu.

“I’m 15 in two months,” she smiles. “Very exciting! It’s cool that I can go places.”

“She’s going to call me cool daddy,” laughed her father, Ashok Babu. “That’s what she’s going to say. We’ll see, though.”

“I mean, he’s, like, the best dad ever,” Anjali said. “He’s just someone you love to be around. He’s just amazing.”

Really, that only begins to describe Anjali’s father.

Dr. Ashok Babu is a cardiothoracic surgeon at Ascension Saint Thomas who spearheaded the revival of the hospital’s heart transplant program.

“We all have something we’re really good at, and we just have to find it,” Dr. Babu said.

Turns out he found more than one something. He is also a mechanic.

“I had this call or compulsion to somehow fix things that are broken,” Dr. Babu said. “I had a lot of joy in being able to fix something.”

Developing a love for cars as a child, he worked in an auto shop while in college. Dr. Babu said there is a connection between the work he does on the cars and the work he does at Ascension Saint Thomas.

“There’s the wise mechanic and the wise cardiac surgeon,” he explained. “As we gain experience, we can look at a situation and say, ‘I saw that. We should. “”

No one could appreciate Dr. Babu’s experience more than Robert Marcom.

“I just felt tightness in my chest,” Marcom recalls, thinking back to the day of his heart attack. “I brought in a friend who’s a nurse, and she said, ‘He’s having a heart attack. You better call 9-1-1.'”

The ambulance took him to Ascension Saint Thomas West.

“This ambulance driver was saying to the other, ‘it’s not too good,'” Marcom said. “That’s the last thing I remember.”

There, a blood clot was removed and a device was implanted to help Marcom’s heart pump blood to his body. Dr. Babu then performed the heart transplant surgery that saved Marcom’s life. His life is so different now. Marcom is back on the road himself.

“I just finished doing 128 mile bike rides,” he said. “It was amazing. It’s a pleasure. It’s really humbling to be able to do that.”

Dr. Babu restores the family van for Anjali to get her ready for the road soon.

“I wouldn’t want anyone else working on it,” Dr Babu said. “It’s kind of nice to know that it’s done well, and that she can drive a car that I worked on.”

He and Anjali worked together under the hood of the car.

“She changed car oil probably from the age of nine or ten,” smiles Dr Babu. “She’ll teach her husband how to do it one of these days!”

“He definitely holds everything to a high standard, that’s for sure,” Anjali said.

That’s what he does, keeping people safe with those gifted hands.

“I just want to thank him, Dr Babu, for everything he has done for me,” Marcom said.

About this great reward, Dr. Babu’s ECMO team at Ascension Saint Thomas used a new procedure to support people with acute heart failure. Their writing on their case series just received a national award at a major industry conference.