As her tenth anniversary of being a Pediatric Surgeon approaches, Dr. Garza finds herself thinking about how far she’s come. If anyone had told her when she was a ten-year-old ‘plant cleaner’ at Edinburg Medical Center, where her father and two brothers practiced family medicine, that she would one day be in their very shoes, she’s not sure she would have believed them. Back then, as she cleaned plants, her idea of moving up in the world meant that she would one day earn enough kudos and accolades to transition to answering phones someday.
Somewhere in the back of her mind, she knew that she would go into medicine in some capacity or other. She hails from a long line of medical professionals – family physicians, obstetricians, and pharmacists – so it was almost expected that she would follow in their proud footsteps. No matter how much she resisted the call to work in certain disciplines like pediatrics or geriatrics, the lure of helping those who are often underserved appealed to her as nothing else in her life had. Soon, that embedded desire to help others led her to want to study medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. She knew almost immediately that she wanted to become a surgeon.
During her five years as a general surgery resident, she was given the opportunity to study for two years at St. Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, Connecticut, a prestigious Yale University program. She was blessed to be placed on the Pediatric Plastic Surgery rotation. The time spent there changed her professional career track. As an integral part of that esteemed program, she witnessed and assisted children with varying degrees of deformities. The time spent with them showed her another side of the often-rote medical field. It planted the seed for what would be her life’s calling – treating a wide variety of surgical problems related to neonatology, gastroenterology, nephrology, non-cardiac thoracic surgery, and several other specialty areas. In essence, she takes care of fetal anomalies and helps parents better understand their child’s diagnosis and course of treatment.
Families of children who need surgery or have congenital issues are most often forced to travel far and wide to find top quality care for their young ones. In addition to the stress these families endure, the added costs can burden them immensely. In some cases, families become separated while they try to navigate the ups and downs of illness and try to keep their families and finances intact. The trip can be quite expensive. Long-term stays take a toll on everyone involved. That’s why an essential part of Dr. Garza’s core mission is to alleviate the hardships and confusion family members sometimes suffer from just being a part of this process.
Part of these efforts includes providing parents with the option of having a regional center for critically ill infants and children who require pediatric surgical care with state-of-the-art facilities, including the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) as well as an extensive array of pediatric surgeries available. In addition to this, she began working with a pediatric anesthesiologist who is solely trained to work with children.
Dr. Garza is at the technological forefront with tools necessary to provide the latest in minimally invasive procedures to patients. She utilizes the most advanced surgical concepts and equipment including high definition and robotic technology.
Her approach to Pediatric Outpatient Surgery is to minimize frightening events to the young child as they begin preparation for their surgical procedure. “Gas first” anesthesia is utilized when possible to avoid any potential trauma of the IV placement. The children are almost immediately awakened from anesthesia – normally, within the first hour after the surgical procedure – and sent home with little to no pain.
Some of the common procedures she performs include:
- Correction of undescended testes and circumcision
- Placement and/or the removal of vascular access devices
- Removal of cysts or benign lumps on the head, neck, trunk, or extremities
- And repair of the umbilical cord and/or inguinal hernias
Through her work and perseverance, she’s been able to work with countless young children and families. She’s strived hard to remain abreast of new procedures, techniques, and innovative ideas that can positively impact her patients. Her greatest reward is in knowing that through her efforts she has helped patients, lessening the burden worried families deal with, and in turn, has done her part to make the world a better place.