Young Guns Bring Surgical Expertise To Brevard
By Ed Pierce, Managing Editor // April 19, 2012
Pioneers Of Robotic Surgery
VIERA, FLORIDA – The passion for healing is evident in everything that Dr. Nathan Allison and Dr. Diego Velarde do, and their arrival to practice medicine on the Space Coast signals a new era in treatment for patients here.
Both of these young specialty trained surgeons provide true minimally invasive approaches to major and general bariatric surgery and Allison’s visionary training in robotic surgery makes him perhaps the most accomplished surgeon in that domain yet in Brevard County.
Allison , 33, grew up in DeLand and completed undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Florida. He then completed an internship and a robotic surgery fellowship at the University of Texas at Houston and is one of only three graduates to date to complete that program.
Married and the father of two children, 3-year old Jacob and 10-month old Ava, Allison could have had his choice of almost anywhere in America to practice, but chose Brevard County, Florida and joined the Health First team this summer, currently covering Viera and Palm Bay Hospitals.
His wife, Angela, is also a Gator, with an undergraduate and law degree from the University of Florida. She is currently a stay-at-home mother, but previously professionally practiced as a medical malpractice and commercial litigation attorney.
“My wife and I wanted to return to Florida and live near the coast,” said Dr. Allison. “Health First offers a great support group and great physicians. They work efficiently and made me feel welcome from the very start.”
Dr. Allison’s practice will be general surgery, minimally invasive surgery, bariatric surgery and endoscopic surgery, all using his remarkable prowess in robotics.
Robotic surgery is a precise procedure using a computer, remote controls and small instruments guided by trained surgeons like Allison in operations. Employing tiny incisions, it offers less pain and bleeding, smaller risk of infection, shorter hospital stays and smaller scars.
“I love to operate and being in the operating room,” Allison said.
“The diversity of the job is so rewarding and it’s so satisfying to be able to do what I love and at the same time contribute to the health and wellbeing of my patients.”
He said his motivation as a surgeon is simple.
“I always try to improve my outcomes for patients,” Allison said.
“The bottom line for me is to keep working hard to do my best for my patients. By doing that I am paying it forward and that’s why I got into medicine to begin with.”
Allison’s skills were put to the test early on when one of his first cases involved a young man suffering from an esophageal hernia who was contemplating suicide to alleviate his years of suffering and pain.
The patient was home and pain free within three days after corrective surgery using minimally invasive technique and the robot.
“You work so hard for something and then to deliver it is amazing,” he said.
“Getting patients through the system and free from pain makes it all worth it for me.”
HIGHLY REGARDED GENERAL SURGEON
Diego Velarde, 40, grew up in Lima, Peru and wanted to become a doctor since he was a small child.
“At the age of 7, I was very sick and a wonderful doctor took care of me,” he said. “He became my hero and I wanted to follow in his footsteps and cure people too.”
He completed medical studies at the University of Guadalajara’s School of Medicine and then completed his General Surgery training at Mount Sinai Medical Center as well as a Fellowship in Minimally-Invasive Surgery at Mercy Hospital Medical Center – both in Miami.
Velarde moved to Brevard County in 2008 and joined Health First early last year. He is highly regarded as a general surgeon who specializes in laparoscopic, minimally invasive and bariatric surgeries and gastric weight-loss bands.
He also is adept in using robotic surgery to treat patients at Viera, Cape Canaveral and Palm Bay Hospitals.
“It’s cutting edge technology,” he said. “It’s not more expensive. It’s very precise and the complication rates for robotic surgery are much lower.”
Velarde enjoys living in Brevard County because of its great weather and proximity to the ocean.
“I’m family oriented and there are lots of things to do here for families,” he said. His two daughters, Valentina and Sadie and new addition, 3-week old son, Ian keep him and his wife Anna, a speech pathologist, very busy.
“We all love to be outdoors, and this area offers so much in the way of recreation and great family activities. I also love surfing and am learning to kitesurf too.”
But like Allison, using his surgical talents to restore the health of his patients is the main focus of Velarde’s career.
“I really love what I do,” Velarde said. “I don’t ever see myself ever doing anything else in medicine outside of the operating room. It’s so gratifying to see the end result.”
Both surgeons say they are dedicated to the goal of establishing Health First as a center for excellence for their surgical specialties and building a practice that is a preferred destination for patients from throughout Florida and the Southeastern United States.
Allison and Velarde have already established themselves as pioneers in robotic general surgery on the Space Coast.
To date they have done the first robotically assisted sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass for obesity, partial removal of the liver for cancer, paraesophageal hernia repair and total colectomy ever done in Brevard County.
“We want our practice to be a magnet of excellence for patients,” Allison said.
“We’re here to be able to put Viera Hospital and Health First on the map for outstanding surgery and to leave a legacy of exceptional care for everyone we treat.”
For more information log on to Health-First.org.