“I don’t feel like you should ever compromise.”
“She is quite an impressive woman. It’s not easy to become a heart surgeon, to become a teacher, and to become a mother at the same time. Her patients and their families feel safe with her, and she’s very compassionate. It can be easy to forget about showing sympathy, but she does that very well. That’s why the patients and families adore her. She has a great career ahead of her, and she’s going to only get better. She doesn’t look at it as a job—it’s a passion.”
Dr. Hassan Reda is glowing as he describes his colleague, Dr. Tessa London—and for good reason. By all accounts, Dr. London is extraordinary. She’s one of a handful of female cardiothoracic surgeons in Kentucky, and one of just a few in the country. Only a few years into her career, she’s achieved a level of skill, empathy and grace that others take decades to achieve.
Dr. London’s desire to serve others started early. The daughter of a physician’s assistant and a Peace Corps medical officer, she and her family traveled all over the world, helping people from Africa to Thailand. After college, Dr. London worked as an HIV/AIDS consultant in Cambodia. The work confirmed what she’d suspected for years: she wanted to go into medicine. During and after medical school, Dr. London was drawn to a challenging, intense specialty: cardiothoracic surgery.
“I always loved cardiovascular surgery. It’s a finely-detailed, precision-based surgery, but also there’s a lot of new stuff. It’s constantly evolving, with a lot of innovation that you don’t see in a lot of other surgeries. Being a younger surgeon, that’s very much what I’m interested in—participating in cutting edge things, evolving my own techniques, not stopping what I learned.”
While Dr. London’s field is one that is constantly evolving and challenging her, the people are truly what keeps her coming back. Her patients are the number one reason she continues to strive for new techniques, new breakthroughs and better care. Every patient she comes to know drives her to do better and work harder. The patients, the diversity of high level cases and the extremely evolved pathology in Kentucky is exactly what drew Dr. London to UK HealthCare’s Gill Heart & Vascular Institute.
“One of the things about cardiothoracic that’s really great is that I remember all my patients. I may not remember them by name, but as soon as I start talking to them, I remember their stories. I remember something they told me about their family or a trip they took.”
Dr. Reda can attest to Dr. London’s exceptional patient care. “She’s very caring, very attentive and a great teacher. Dr. London knows how to select her cases, how to select her patients, and how to approach using the resources around her. She has no problem doing whatever it takes to take care of her patients.”
Today, Dr. London continues saving lives and doing groundbreaking work in her field—and she’s doing it all while raising a growing family. For her, that balance is key, both for herself, and for other young surgeons in such a demanding specialty. “It’s nice to be able to show them that it is possible to have a fulfilling career in cardiac surgery and to be able to also support your family. I don’t feel like you should ever compromise.”