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Physician Connection
A Communication Service for Physicians from CHOC and CHOC at Mission. Please Note: Physician Connection is no longer being printed and is now available electronically. Please visit our blog at http://docs.chocchildrens.org for the latest articles for our physician community. You can also receive our electronic Physician Connection newsletter in your inbox by subscribing to our mailing list: http://www.choc.org/subscribe

Physician Spotlight: Richard Gates, M.D.

When Richard Gates, M.D., arrived at CHOC in 1995, there was only one way to protect a neonate’s heart during cardiac surgery. Surgeons had to cool the patient down, stop circulation—and hope for no permanent neurological injuries.

The process was successful about 95 percent of the time, but Dr. Gates wasn’t satisfied with those odds. What about the other five percent?

Working with bioengineers at Texas-based Quest Medical, Dr. Gates helped develop a myocardial protection system (MPS) that delivers cardioplegia solution to patients during surgery. This solution provides oxygen to the patient intermittently, dramatically lowering the risk for neurological injury.

As a result of Dr. Gates’ efforts, CHOC was the first hospital in the world to use the Quest MPS for pediatrics in 2001, and now more than 20 centers worldwide have adopted the system. Dr. Gates has presented lectures about MPS at medical schools throughout the country, including UCLA, Cornell, Columbia and Vanderbilt. This fall, he will be teaching physicians about the system in Japan.

In May, Dr. Gates discussed using this technique with the Norwood procedure at the Pediatric Mechanical Circulatory Support Systems & Pediatric Cardiopulmonary Perfusion Annual Conference, in Pennsylvania.

Dr. Gates is a graduate of the Yale University School of Medicine. He completed his internship and general surgery residency training at Columbia– Presbyterian Hospital, in New York. Then he moved west to UCLA for his cardiac residency and fellowship, plus a second fellowship in heart-lung transplantation. As Dr. Gates was completing the second fellowship, he was recruited to CHOC.

“It was perfect. Having grown up in Southern California, I could see that Orange County was going to grow and mature,” Dr. Gates recalls. “I knew CHOC was going to be one of the nation’s premier children’s hospitals in one of the largest and most desirable counties.”

An accomplished musician, Dr. Gates plays piano, violin, guitar and French horn. He sees parallels between music and surgery, and both give him the same kind of enjoyment.

“Just as in music, there are two parts to surgery. There is the intellectual processing and visualization of what is needed for anatomical function,” he says. “Then there is the technical part of making it happen.”

In addition to his music, Dr. Gates enjoys biking, running and baseball. He coaches Little League and attends as many Angels games as possible. Dr. Gates and his wife, plastic surgeon Gail Mattson-Gates, M.D., have three teenage children.

“One of the reasons I wanted to come to CHOC is that I really enjoy meeting the families, explaining the surgery, and getting a chance to see them afterward. That is not always possible in the university setting,” says Dr. Gates, who also speaks Spanish. “At CHOC, we do the procedure technically well, plus we understand what it means to patients and their families.”

Dr. Gates’ office is located 1310 W. Stewart Avenue, Suite 503, in Orange. To contact him, please call 714-997-2224.


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chocChildren's Hospital of Orange County | UCI University of California, Irvine

Children's Hospital of Orange County is affiliated with UC Irvine Healthcare and UC Irvine School of Medicine

CHOC Children's - 1201 W La Veta Ave, Orange, CA. Phone: 714-997-3000. .