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Tanner Hosts Open-Heart Fellowship

If there’s one thing the world needs, it’s more doctors. And if there’s one thing west Georgia needs — given its disproportionate rate of heart disease — it’s more heart specialists.

As part of its open-heart surgery program, Tanner Health is serving as a training site for two cardiothoracic surgery fellows through a partnership with the Emory University School of Medicine’s Department of Surgery. The fellows are training under the program’s head, Omar Lattouf, MD.

A fellowship is a longer course of training that follows a physician’s internship and residency. The fellowship helps the physician hone their skills in specific areas. The fellows will be studying at Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton for two years.Dr. Sarhan, Dr. Latouff and Dr. Ibrahim

It’s Tanner’s first fellowship program.

“It’s exciting to see this hospital become a training site for cardiothoracic surgery,” said Dr. Lattouf. “It’s so important that we are part of educating and enhancing the next generation of physicians. Cardiothoracic fellowships are a premier level of training, and now, Tanner’s part of that.”

The fellows are Hatem Sarhan, MD, and Baraa Ibrahim, MD.

Dr. Ibrahim earned his medical degree from the An-Najah National University in Nablus, West Bank. He finished his internship at the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Nablus, where he also finished a residency in general cardiology. He completed a residency in cardiology and cardiac surgery at the Specialized Arab Hospital in Nablus, and a residency in cardiac surgery at the Palestinian Medical Complex in Ramallah, West Bank, where he also participated in an advanced cardiac surgery fellowship program.

“I wanted to join this fellowship for the chance to work with Dr. Lattouf,” said Dr. Ibrahim. “I’ve seen him present at conferences. His scholarship is known worldwide.”

Having the fellowship in Carrollton has exposed Dr. Ibrahim to complicated cases — and taught him what he should do when they arise in his practice.

“The variety of cases I’ve seen is very important,” Dr. Ibrahim said. “Every case has its own challenges — no two patients are alike. Each one is a different scenario. That’s what makes us better surgeons; the experience in making decisions.”

Dr. Ibrahim started his fellowship with Tanner in mid-October.

“At Tanner, we’re getting experience with patient encounters and surgical techniques,” said Dr. Ibrahim. “The variety of cases we encounter and seeing how they’re addressed is amazing to see.”

Dr. Sarhan earned his medical degree at Mansoura University, Dakahlia Governorate, Egypt. He began a cardiothoracic surgery residency at Nasr City Health Insurance Hospital in Cairo, Egypt, then moved to a general surgery residency at the Hamad Medical Corporation in Doha, Qatar. He completed a vascular surgery residency at Hamad Medical Corporation, where he became the first resident to graduate from the cardiothoracic surgery program.

“This is a very nice place,” said Dr. Sarhan. “There’s lots of cooperation from the medical staff to the clinicians in the hospital to the administration. And the patients are very nice.”

Dr. Sarhan — with a little encouragement from his family — chose to pursue cardiothoracic surgery at a young age.

“When I was a child, I read a journal article about a cardiothoracic surgeon from Egypt named Dr. Magdi Yacoub,” Dr. Sarhan said. “He’s well known in cardiac surgery — especially pediatric cardiac surgery. And he was celebrating his 1,000th heart transplant.

“My family always told me I was smart, so I should be a doctor. If I was going to do that, there was one thing I wanted to do in medicine: cardiothoracic surgery,” said Dr. Sarhan.

Dr. Sarhan began his fellowship at the end of May.

As part of their fellowship, Dr. Ibrahim and Dr. Sarhan are involved in every aspect of patient care — consultations, pre-operative care, surgical care, patients’ recovery in the intensive care unit (ICU) and outpatient clinical appointments in the office.

“It’s tremendous to have these doctors here,” said Loy Howard, president and CEO at Tanner. “We’ve become the place that the world’s best doctors want to hone their skills. That’s a testament to our team — and our community’s longtime commitment to healthcare.”

More on Tanner’s cardiac services can be found at TannerHeartCare.org.