Los Angeles Times: This Surgical Pioneer Still Works Every Day and He’s Not About to Retire
Los Angeles Times recently interviewed George Berci, MD, about his long career at Cedars-Sinai, turning 101 years old, and his life before Cedars-Sinai.
Berci was born and raised in Hungary. In 1942, Berci was forced into a labor camp during World War II. The bombing of Budapest allowed Berci and other prisoners to escape. Risking his life to save others, Berci worked in the Hungarian underground, creating and delivering fake IDs to Jews in hiding.
Once the war ended, Berci planned on having a career in music, but his mother convinced him to become a doctor instead. Surgery has become Berci’s specialty, and Berci’s fellowship led him to Australia, where he focused on improving surgical techniques.
In 1967, Berci joined Cedars-Sinai, where he began developing endoscopic and laparoscopic techniques. Currently, Berci is focusing on educating the next generation of surgeons on perfecting gallbladder surgery so that a follow-up won’t be needed. “He’s put together a coalition of all the senior gallbladder surgeons in the country to make that an expectation of our training programs,” said Bruce L. Gewertz, MD, chair of the Department of Surgery and surgeon-in-chief at Cedars-Sinai.
When Gewertz first came to Cedars-Sinai, he noticed Berci right away. “When I moved in, there was this 85-year-old guy in the office next to mine, and I thought, ‘Well, how long can that last”’ Gewertz told Los Angeles Times.
Gewertz would arrive in his office at 7 a.m. and find Berci already working. Berci goes to his office two days a week and works from home the remainder of the week, where he answers queries from doctors and checks in with colleagues around the world.
At age 101, Berci puts on his white lab coat because his job is not done. Berci has no plans to retire anytime soon.
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