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2011 Salute to Health Care Honoree: Dr. Bharat Shah

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When Dr. Bharat Shah isn’t crafting his extensive plastic surgery practice, he somehow finds time to invent new medical devices and serve as the medical director and sole physician of St. John’s Medical Spa and Clinic.

By his estimate, Shah has been interested in medicine since eighth grade.

“I read a book about the human body in the school library, and I’ve been hooked ever since then,” he says.

Plastic surgery allows him to tap into his artistic side.

“Through childhood, I was always one that would enjoy drawing, sculpture and creative activities, so plastic surgery was perfect because I can be creative at the same time that I can be a physician or a scientist.”

Shah, who is in surgery four days a week, is the section chairman of St. John’s Clinic-Plastic Surgery. When he’s not performing microsurgery and cosmetic, reconstructive and hand surgeries, among other procedures, he is directing the spa and serving on the guidance team for St. John’s Ambulatory Surgery Center.

Shah also invests in the future of medicine as a clinical instructor and preceptor for the Missouri State University physician assistant program, and he lectures and trains doctors from across the country.

His medical experience also has spurred him to become an inventor, taking his ideas to St. John’s Medical Research Institute, for which he serves as a board member.

One product, the Secure360 Prone Positioning Device, is an invention that positions infants for surgery in a safe and efficient manner, allowing 360-degre access during infant cranial surgeries. Shah has performed about 35 such surgeries in the last five years, and he says the positioning device has cut to two or three minutes a process that used to take about 45 minutes. Now, the device is used not only by Shah, but also by doctors in St. John’s Children’s Hospital.

Another invention, the PolyTrak Intermaxilliary Fixation System, is an alternative to the centuries-old practice of wiring jaws shut for post-surgical treatment. The PolyTrak system uses plastic instead of metal, which is safer for patients and doctors.

“My motivation is what I can change today or what I can change tomorrow. I love to see the look on people’s faces when they see the result,” he says. “It’s the same when I do medical device design. I love seeing that go from start to finish.”

Click here for full coverage of the 2011 Salute to Health Care.
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