On the cut­ting edge

Grand Falls - Wind­sor na­tive works, plays his way onto sur­gi­cal fron­tier


Dr. Kevin Hod­dinott used to swim at Leech Brook. He still drinks his Red Rose tea from a 75th an­niver­sary Grand Falls - Wind­sor Royal Cana­dian Le­gion mug.

In Grade 10 at Grand Falls Academy he played gui­tar in a band called the Comets and af­ter that, the Shan­dells.

He went on to Memo­rial Uni­ver­sity in 1967 for two years study­ing en­gi­neer­ing and didn’t like it.

He switched to pre-med but didn’t like it ei­ther, so he quit and re­united the band as the rocky blues play­ing Rock Pile (Ed Cater, Ewan Ne­whook, Cyril Glen, Dave Hil­lier and Brian Mur­phy, who is to­day a well-known jazz mu­si­cian in Florida).

Sev­eral in­car­na­tions

The band sur­vived sev­eral in­car­na­tions ( Kite, Ex­press Freight, Ice) over the next six years in New­found­land and On­tario. In be­tween bands, Dr. Hod­dinott sur­vived work­ing in odd jobs in­clud­ing work at a card­board box fac­tory and as a to­bacco picker.

In 1976 at the age of 26, he fig­ured he’d bet­ter “get a real job” and moved back to New­found­land go to med school.

Mis­ter Hod­dinott be­came Doc­tor Hod­dinott in 1980 when he grad­u­ated from Memo­rial Uni­ver­sity with his de­gree in medicine. He con­tin­ued on and did his five-year gen­eral surgery res­i­dency there.

In 1985 Dr. Hod­dinott com­pleted a fel­low­ship in vas­cu­lar surgery with the Uni­ver­sity of Toronto. He was “tempted” to stay and do a year of tho­racic or car­diac surgery, but the time had come. He had his three chil­dren by then with his wife Judy (Al­lan) from St. John’s, and he felt he needed to get out and go to work. The next year he re­turned to New­found­land and be­gan work at St. Clare’s Mercy Hospi­tal in St. John’s.

For 10 years Dr. Hod­dinott worked in vas­cu­lar and gen­eral surgery at that lo­ca­tion.

‘Ex­tremely busy’

“I was ex­tremely busy,” he said. “I was prob­a­bly the busiest sur­geon in the prov­ince at the time.”

He tired of the treat­ment doc­tors re­ceived from the health care board at the time and de­cided “enough was enough,” leav­ing New­found­land in 1996.

“The prov­ince was los­ing a lot of good doc­tors around that time,” he said. “No one could take hav­ing to work all the time. There were never enough of us and they wouldn’t give us the equip­ment we needed to work with and so on. We were start­ing to lose our skills.”

He was able to hone those skills per­form­ing vas­cu­lar and bariatric (weight loss) surgery at St. Luke’s Hospi­tal in Beth­le­hem, Penn­syl­va­nia, for the next 12 years.

“The first year I was there I did maybe seven gas­tric by­passes or re­vi­sions but then the word got out and I did about fif­teen the next year, then 45, 75, 150, and 250. It just took right off.”

His web­site is filled with com­ments from his many suc­cess sto­ries.

“I have per­formed a lot of surg­eries and I have to say weight loss surgery pa­tients are by far the most ap­pre­cia­tive pa­tients you will ever come across,” he said.

Last year he moved to Ocala, Florida with his fam­ily and now works as a lead­ing sur­geon at Mon­roe Re­gional Med­i­cal Cen­tre, which holds the des­ig­na­tion of Bariatric Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence.

“I’m do­ing vas­cu­lar gen­eral and bariatric surgery. I’m still go­ing full blast.” 100-200 weight loss

surg­eries a year

Dr. Hod­dinott does 100-200 weight loss surg­eries a year. He is also one of the first and few sur­geons trained in a break­through sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure to cor­rect gas­tro-esophageal re­flux dis­ease (GERD). He’s com­plet-

“I have per­formed a lot of surg­eries and I have to say weight loss surgery pa­tients are by far the most ap­pre­cia­tive pa­tients you will ever come across.”


ed 52 of those since Fe­bru­ary.

The pro­ce­dure in­volves a new sleeve de­vice that at­taches to a scope and al­lows doc­tors per­form surgery “trans-orally” or through the mouth. Sur­geons at­tach the stom­ach wall to the esoph­a­gus and cre­ate a valve to stop un­wanted stom­ach acid from com­ing back up into the esoph­a­gus and lungs. It pro­vides an “anatom­i­cal so­lu­tion,” he said, to a prob­lem tra­di­tion­ally treated far too long and in­ef­fec­tively with antacid med­i­ca­tion.

“Re­flux can be aw­ful,” he said. “It can be any­thing from a bit of mi­nor heart­burn to ac­tual chok­ing. If you look at re­flux dis­ease lead­ing to esophagi­tis all the way through to esophageal can­cer, if re­flux is pre­ventable, we’re talk­ing about a pre­ventable can­cer here.”

He still fol­lows health care at home and while he says the Cana­dian sys­tem is “light years ahead” in terms of health care cov­er­age for pa­tients, he said he would never come back to work.

“I’ve al­ways said, and all of us who leave say the same, it wouldn’t have taken much to keep me, but it would take a hell of a lot to get me to come back.” H e said the large hos­pi­tals have their quota of sur­geons and smaller ones don’t have the re­sources sur­geons need to do any­thing other then gen­eral surgery. He also said travel from New­found­land is in­con­ve­nient and a costly ne­ces­sity for doc­tors to keep

on top of med­i­cal ad­vances. New sur­gi­cal treat­ment

He said there is in­ter­est in bring­ing the new sur­gi­cal treat­ment to New­found­land, how­ever it is not yet be­ing per­formed in any­where in Canada.

Not all of Dr, Hod­dinott’s time is filled in surgery.

He still takes the time to rock out with some blues on his gui­tar.

“I still play most ev­ery day,” he said. “I got a room full of gui­tars and amps here and a loud PA sys­tem.”

Once his new house is built, he in­tends to spend even more time at his first love with friends that share his pas­sion for mu­sic.

Dr. Kevin Hod­dinott holds an en­do­scope used to per­form a ground­break­ing new sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure trans-orally to cor­rect re­flux dis­ease. The Grand Falls-Wind­sor na­tive is rec­og­nized as a pi­o­neer in the area of bariatric medicine.

Sub­mit­ted pho­tos When he’s not per­form­ing surg­eries, Dr. Hod­dinott con­tin­ues a favourite pas­time of his — play­ing gui­tar.

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