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January 18, 2018

It’s worth traveling to UCLA

By Lucky Traveler

I am 51 and have a diagnosis of papillary thyroid carcinoma, and just underwent a central neck dissection, right modified radical neck dissection. During a previous surgery, I had a total thyroidectomy and had a difficult recovery due to issues with the breathing tube. So I was dreading this procedure, which I’d been told would be more complicated and riskier than my previous operation.

Prior to this surgery, a nurse from the anesthesiology department at UCLA phoned me to review my case. (I live out-of-state and would be traveling to UCLA in order to have Dr. Michael Yeh perform the operation. I’d found Dr. Yeh after doing extensive research into endocrine surgeons and found he is one of the best in the world). When I told the nurse on the phone about my prior difficulties she expressed genuine concern and asked more questions. She informed me that there were definitely options to make sure things went better this time. She also told me she would ask an anesthesiologist to call me. The next day a doctor did call, and the she also asked many questions and offered ideas to improve my outcome.

The morning of the surgery, a member of the anesthesiology tam (I’m sorry I don’t remember her name) came to see me. She’d actually read the files and already knew all about my history and concerns. She allayed my fears and told me that Dr. Karen S. Sibert, the anesthesiologist who would be in charge during my surgery was determined that I would experience as little pain as possible. Soon Dr. Karen S. Sibert came in and also seemed very familiar with my case. She asked a lot of questions and we talked long enough that I felt extremely confident that I was in good hands. Then surgery and . . . everything that could have gone wrong, went right.

Dr. Sibert was my hero! I had NO post-operative pain. It was unbelievable! The nurses in recovery were all amazed I had no pain. But I didn’t. I felt great. Dr. Yeh, the surgeon, of course also did a flawless surgery (which was no surprise. He was the reason I had traveled to UCLA in the first place, even after consulting with three top surgeons in my state). Dr. Yeh, said when he saw me in recovery that I looked like nothing had happened. I’m still amazed at how well the whole thing went. I also want to say that the UCLA Tiverton House is the perfect place to stay if you are from out-of-town - so friendly, comfortable and walking distance.

Everyone I encountered at UCLA Health (Ronald Reagan) was caring, warm and professional. I wish I had kept a list of the excellent nurses who took care of me before and after - Mary, Stephanie, Dana, John, and others. It was a wonderful (even enjoyable) experience. Dr. Michael Yeh is the best! He is truly gifted with miraculous skills. I’ve gotten to know many of the wonderful professionals in his office - Maya, Jennifer, Yasmine, and they always listen and do whatever they can to help. However, as I said, I knew Dr. Yeh was going to be amazing. The real surprise was Dr. Sibert. She was so impressive and visited me twice in recovery. I wanted to hug her! No pain. Even though the nurses warned that I might have some pain later, it never came. People in southern California are so lucky to have UCLA Health. And if, like, me you don’t live there, it’s well worth traveling to receive their world-class care. Thank you Dr. Yeh and Dr. Sibert and everyone at UCLA!

Tags: anesthesiology, central neck dissection, Dr. Karen S. Sibert, Dr. Michael Yeh, Endocrine, Endocrine Surgery, Endocrinology, papillary thyroid carcinoma, patient stories, radical neck dissection, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Surgery, thyroid cancer, thyroidectomy

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