Every successful person in any aspect of society has similar traits that define them: discipline, perseverance, commitment, and passion.
When it comes to medicine, achieving a milestone might be harder to accomplish, as it should be, because doctors can change and save lives.
One of these specialists is Dr. Marcos Arias, a urologist at the Metropolitan Hospital of Santiago (HOMS), who in the first week of June became the first Dominican to perform robotic surgery against prostate cancer in the Dominican Republic.
dohealthwell spoke to Dr. Arias to get further knowledge about him and the process that now inks in the medical history books of the Dominican Republic.
Thank you for accepting our interview request Dr. Marcos Arias. We are honored to interview you and broadcast that you are the first Dominican doctor to perform robotic surgery against prostate cancer in the Dominican Republic. We are very proud of you and what you did for our country.
Let’s start with the basics. How Marcos Arias defines itself?
As a humble, supportive person, friend.
I am curious and ambitious in the right way and always willing to learn.
What is your background as in place of birth, childhood, and your family environment?
I was born and raised in the center of the city of Santiago, the Dominican Republic, surrounded by my mother, an aunt, uncle, my grandmother, and my cousins.
I had a modest childhood though very healthy and active. During my teenage years, I had great friends that I still have.
Did you ever practice a sport? Are you a fan of a particular sport or team?
Sure, I practiced several sports like baseball, judo, but especially basketball, which I still practice it from time to time.
Although it may sound strange (being a Dominican) the sport that I follow the most is soccer. I am a huge Real Madrid fan since the ’90s. Also, I am an ‘Aguilucho desde chiquitico’* and a follower of the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA.
*Aguilucho is the name commonly used for Aguilas Cibaeñas fans, the winter league professional baseball team. The phrase is used to denote that they have been supporting the team since they were kids.*
Where does your desire to study medicine come?
I was always passionate about science, the biological functioning of species. I discovered in some television series about real cases of emergency rooms, and that’s where I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
After that initial attraction towards medicine, how did you end up in urology given all the other specialties that academic institutions offer?
Urology is one of the medical specialties that enables you to create a genuine relationship with your patients, earn their trust, and stay interested in their realities and their families.
Furthermore, it benefits from all the technological advances in medicine, which leads to being able to make an immediate difference in many patients causing minimal aggression to the body.
How would you describe your university stage, and what were your most memorable moments?
I would say that my college years were exactly what I imagined it would be. That is many hours of study, a lot of camaraderie, great companions, and lifelong friendships.
Two of the most memorable moments was when I finished my training as a teacher’s assistant in morphology, which took a whole year of great sacrifices and a lot, lots of studies; the other was my last semester before my internship, which was a kind of farewell for all.
When do you start and why did you decide to join the Metropolitan Hospital of Santiago?
I decided to join HOMS because I made a fellow in minimally invasive surgery and robotics and I knew that if I wanted to have the opportunity to dedicate myself to it and develop as a robotic surgeon, joining HOMS was a must, so I did not hesitate for a moment and started in September of 2016.
How would you describe your experience at HOMS?
HOMS is an exemplary institution from its directive to the most humble employee. The work environment invites you to arrive every morning and give the best of you.
They are always committed to excellence and vanguard, so how not to feel proud of belonging to this kind of medical body?
Based on our research, we acknowledge that you went through a year of training by Intuitive Surgical. Tell us about this specialization process, the challenges, successes, and any other details from that experience.
I have a year in the final process. It all started in March 2015 when I decided to go to Caracas (Venezuela) to train with one of the best urologists in Latin America, Dr. Rene Sotelo. With him, I understood that discipline is the key to success and also that robotic surgery is the present, and if we do not get on the wave, we will just see it happen.
Then comes Intuitive Surgical, an exemplary company, unique in everything they do, which also every detail covered.
The process was entertaining and challenging, and it required balance and sacrifices. But in all, total satisfaction.
How did you feel working and being trained in robotic surgery by two world-renowned specialists like Dr. David Samadi and Dr. Ronald Cadillo?
Lucky. Extremely fortunate. Thankfully, I have had great teachers throughout my career.
Working with Dr. Samadi for almost two years is already a privilege, and I have learned enormously, not only in urology. Just watching him perform operations is already a master class. Dr. Cadillo is also a gifted, super patient, understanding, and very cooperative human being. I could not ask for more.
I must reward them by filling their expectations and always thanking them for being and count on them as my friends.
Earlier this month, we learned that you became the first Dominican doctor that performs robotic surgery against prostate cancer.
Tell us in detail about that day, from the moment you woke up, your emotions, in short, what was going on in the mind of Dr. Marcos Arias upon entering the hospital, the preparation of the patient, and the energy of the medical team that gathered around you?
I asked Dr. Cadillo once when did he managed to feel fully prepared, and he told me that when he got the chance to sleep the full night before surgery. So, you can imagine that I did not sleep much that night.
Nevertheless, the day of the surgery started very positively. We have a great team that is very motivated and with much desire to progress.
In my mind, I said to myself: ‘the day has come, enjoy it, make your patients feel safe and satisfied.’ So, it was possible with the help of the whole team.
After this successful operation finished, how did you feel? Was there anything different compared to other days at the hospital?
Immense satisfaction. Also somewhat overwhelmed, many emotions, the news spread like gunpowder, and it was something I did not expect.
In the end, what remains is a great satisfaction.
What about your relatives and friends, how did they take the news?
They expressed pure happiness and pride.
My wife, my mother, and all my inner circle of friends were ecstatic.
I received a lot of support from many people and fellow urologists who filled me with joy.
Moving forward, what is your commitment as a robotic surgeon in urology?
To keep improving, this should not stop.
It is just the beginning, and we should provide robotic surgery to all patients who need it and help to continue broadcasting HOMS as what it is: the pioneer in robotic surgery in the Caribbean.
In your career, to whom is Dr. Marcos Arias grateful?
Many people. It starts with my family: my wife, who is my primary support, my children who are my greatest joy and my most important job, my mother, my uncles, and cousins, and my great friends.
I am especially grateful to HOMS and its President, Dr. Rafael Sanchez Español, for trusting in me, and Dr. Hector Sanchez, the director of the robotic surgery program for promoting this project.
I thank Intuitive Surgical for the time and resources invested, for betting on this. I also feel grateful to each one of my teachers.
What is next? What does Dr. Marcos Arias want to achieve professionally?
To position myself as a robotic urologist surgeon, continue to grow as a professional, keep promoting this project, and being able to show our results to the world promptly.
In the future, I want to be able to pass on knowledge. I believe that the best legacy that someone can provide is teaching.